What do we warn about?
Who issues the warnings?
The obligation to issue official warnings and alerts in Germany is regulated by law. Depending on the type and category of emergency, we are talking about a variety of agencies. In some cases, alerts and information come from several different agencies at a time, for example if evacuations are ordered. Given that recipients sometimes have trouble identifying the source of the warning, each alert is labelled with the name of the issuing agency.
In Deutschland ist gesetzlich geregelt, wer amtlich warnen muss. Abhängig von der Art der Gefahr sind das unterschiedliche Behörden. Bei einigen Ereignissen geben auch mehrere Behörden gleichzeitig Warnungen und Gefahreninformationen heraus, zum Beispiel bei Evakuierungen. In amtlichen Warnungen ist deshalb immer klar gekennzeichnet, wer die Warnung herausgegeben hat.
How do we warn you?
Vehicle-mounted PA systems are frequently used by fire brigade, police or other agencies to reach the largest possible number of people, especially if evacuations are necessary. If required, the message can then be broadcasted in several languages.
Sirens continue to play an important role, because their high/low wailing sound literally wakes people up. Upon hearing a siren, people should then turn to other channels, such as smartphone apps or local radio stations. A one-minute continuous siren sound will signal the all-clear.
Another signal, a one-minute continuous wail with two interruptions, is not intended for the population but is sounded to call firefighters to action.
Radio stations and newspaper have their own websites. Most are connected to the Modular Warning System, so that official warnings can be published with some degree of urgency. In addition, all current official warnings issued by the emergency management services can be obtained from www.warnung.bund.de. Current water levels can be viewed on the joint website of the flood warning centres, www.hochwasserzentralen.de. The website of the German Weather Service, www.dwd.de, will provide you with official alerts and a multitude of other information about weather, climate and research.
There is now a multitude of smartphone apps to send alerts via push notification. One of them is NINA, operated by the Federal Government’s. Others include BIWAPP and KATWARN which have been sharing warning messages with NINA since February 2019 for more user-friendliness. The aim is to give all users equal access to alert messages, no matter which app they have on their phone. WarnWetter is an app run by the German Weather Service (DWD). Their weather alerts are also sent by other apps. Private providers play the field, too. Some council-run apps are now also linked to the Modular Warning System and can therefore also republish official alerts.
New technologies help widen the options for spreading information, a trend that will go on. With a view to supplying information to as many people as possible, we work every day to find and develop new avenues and techniques. That said, the best thing is still to spread the word from person to person, and that goes for the authorities as well as for friends, families and neighbours.
What is it you can do?
With each alert will come a list of recommended activities and options for obtaining additional information. On top of this, BBK has come up with suggestions and a check list for protection and preparation. The material can be downloaded from the BBK web site.