What is emergency childcare in Switzerland and how do I access it?

If for some reason you need someone to take care of your kids at short notice in Switzerland, one option is emergency care. Here's what you need to know.

What is emergency childcare in Switzerland and how do I access it?
Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash

Experiencing an emergency can be difficult even in your home town where you know which numbers to call and what to do. 

But if you are abroad, it can be particularly difficult. 

READ MORE: Nine Swiss phone numbers you should never forget

For parents, this can be particularly difficult and challenging. 

If for some reason you need someone to take care of your kids at short notice, one option is emergency care. 

As Swiss people have a proud record of planning, emergency childcare is not to be used if you forget to organise a childminder at short notice or if you need to rush out and see a show. 

Emergency care is reserved for sudden illness, accidents or even death and is used to “bridge the gap until the situation has calmed down”. 

Emergency carers will usually be available within a few hours of a phone call, but will be ready within 24 hours at the latest. 

The Red Cross list several reasons for emergency care, including “Illness, accident or convalescence (time of healing after illness) of the caring parent, exhaustion (e.g. after giving birth), exceptional situations such as crises in the family Illness or accident of a carer (e.g. grandparents, childminder) and urgent appointments (court appointment, police interrogations)”

Emergency care is offered by the Swiss Red Cross in Zurich and is also offered by the Red Cross in other cantons such as Basel. In Bern, this is administered by the cantonal authorities

In Geneva, this service is provided by the YMCA, while there are also two emergency creches that can be contacted here

Please click on the links for more information. 

If you have ongoing health issues, emergency care organisations can help you provide longer-term solutions. 

You can also donate to the Red Cross emergency care facilities anonymously here

What does it cost? 

Again, it is important to reiterate that this does not take the place of regular childcare but is focused on urgent and emergency situations. 

If you are looking for general childcare information, click the following link. 

READ MORE: How to save money on childcare in Switzerland

This means that it is somewhat subsidised. 

While parents will be asked to make a financial contribution, the program is also funded by the Office for Youth and Careers Advice of the Canton of Zurich, the Social Department of the City of Zurich and the SRK Canton of Zurich.

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Can I have a fire in my backyard or courtyard in Switzerland?

The winter months are on their way and the weather is getting colder. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, can you light a fire?

White marshmallows toast over a fire
If you want to toast marshmallows in your backyard in Switzerland this winter, first make sure it's OK. Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

Even if you own a property, the rules for what you can and cannot do in Switzerland can be relatively restrictive. 

As we covered in the following article, laws or tenancy rules can prevent you from doing several types of activities in your own backyard, including felling trees or washing your car. 

You can also be prevented from certain activities on particular days. For instance, rules, bylaws and tenancy arrangements may prevent you from mowing your lawn or hanging out your laundry on a Sunday. 

READ MORE: What am I allowed to do in my backyard or apartment courtyard in Switzerland?

As the weather gets colder, you might be tempted to stock up the fire pit, fire basket or fire bowl with wood and set it alight. 

The rules for lighting fires are also relatively complex. What you are allowed to do will depend on your canton, your tenancy arrangement and the type of fire. 

Can I light a fire on my own property in Switzerland? 

If you’re living in one of the few Swiss houses to have a fireplace, then you are presumably allowed to use it, unless tenancy regulations prevent it at certain times. 

You are also usually allowed to have a barbecue or grill either on your balcony or in your backyard, provided the noise and smoke is not excessive. 

READ MORE: Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Switzerland?

Whether or not you are allowed to have a fire in your backyard however will depend on the rules in your canton. 

You are generally prohibited from burning any waste in Switzerland, other than typical forest or garden waste (i.e. wood, grass, twigs, sticks and leaves). 

That however can also be restricted at certain times of the year.

In Zurich, for instance, fires in backyards are only permitted from March to October, meaning that you will need to find other ways to stay warm in the winter months in Switzerland’s most populous canton. 

Even if lighting fires is permitted, you may want to check with the rules of your rental contract to see if you are technically allowed a fire. 

What about fires in the forest or open parks? 

A campfire might also sound like a nice way to spend a winter evening, but this may be restricted or completely prohibited depending on the circumstance. 

There is no federal ban on fires in forests and other outdoor areas, provided you are not burning waste (other than garden waste etc) and you are not producing excessive emissions. 

The rules are the same on August 1st, Swiss National Day, where special bonfires usually require a permit. 

Note that there are special rules for burning old Christmas trees, which is prevented by law.