The Hills Are Alive.... With Sirens? Only in Switzerland!

The Hills Are Alive.... With Sirens? Only in Switzerland!

About thirteen years ago I moved to Switzerland. The Swiss are known for chocolate, cheese fondue, cow bells, watches, their Swiss army knife and yes for their army. 

In my first months in Switzerland on February afternoon,  I got a taste of how serious they take their safety. Shortly after eating lunch sirens started howling. I picked up Maya and ran outside with Moses and Carli following me; we were all worried. It wasn't a standard siren from an ambulance or a police car; it was an end of the world, bomb warning type of siren. It just kept going as well. I was so nervous that I ran across the street to a neighbor and asked, "What is going on? What am I supposed to do?" She laughed and said, "No worries, they test the alarms every year to make sure they are working. If they ever go off any other time than the first Wednesday of February, then you need to be worried."

Every year I get a fright when those sirens ring loud and clear through the village. Rather than be scared, I am now just happy that there is no need for sirens. 

My Mother and Father in law were children during World War II in Germany. They remember sirens like that; I make sure they are not at my house in February. It has been fascinating over the years listening to their stories of the war, the bomb shelters, being evacuated and having nothing. I have made sure that our children heard the stories from their grandparents. I hope I only ever hear that siren in February and never one that is announcing an actual crisis. 

—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife