Deaf protest over Switzerland’s early-warning siren system
The Swiss Federation for the Deaf staged protests in four cities yesterday as the government carried out the annual testing of the country’s 7,200 sirens, an emergency warning system that the federation finds “discriminatory”.
Protests were held in Lausanne, Basel, Bern and Lugano in order to raise the public’s awareness of the issue, the federation said in a statement reported by news agencies.
Deaf people “continue to risk their lives because they are excluded from alarm systems warning of potential catastrophe and can’t listen to subsequent information on the radio”, it said.
The current system, in place since World War Two, allows the authorities to warn the population of impending disaster using a network of sirens across the country.
When the alarms sound, people are advised to listen to the radio for information on what to do.
Speaking to 20 Minutes, the federation’s spokeswoman Sandrine Burger said the government should be able to protect all the population in case of disaster, but that was currently not the case.
“We demand a system that’s accessible to everyone,” she said.
The government is currently developing a new warning system which would send a push notification to mobile phones. The Alertswiss system should be rolled out across the country in 2018.
The country’s annual siren testing took place at 1.30pm on Wednesday, with the ominous oscillating sound spooking anyone who wasn’t aware of the testing.
Of the 5,000 fixed and 2,200 mobile sirens tested, 99 percent were found to be in perfect working order, said the Office for the Protection of the Population (BABS) in a statement.
Faults were noted in 61 sirens, comparable to the year before.
The cantons and communes with defective sirens will be asked to fix them as soon as possible, said BABS.