Sunday, May 22

Today the aircraft alarm is tested. But over two million live too far away to hear it.

Today the aircraft alarm is tested. Three ul from the sirens, at one minute intervals. «Important message, search for information». But in 222 of the country’s municipalities, no one can hear them.

A typhoon, popularly called aircraft alarm, on the roof of Østbanehallen in Oslo. In peacetime, the Civil Defense tests all the country’s typhoons twice a year, at 12 noon on the second Wednesday in January and June.

This case was first published in January 2021, but was updated on 11 January 2022.

At least 2.2 million people live too far away from the nearest siren – or typhoon, as they are actually called – to hear it. It shows a survey Aftenposten has done. In 62 percent of the country’s municipalities, everyone lives out of earshot.

The civil defense estimates that the typhoons have a range of 500 to 750 meters in flat and open landscape. As is well known, we have little of this in Norway, and the number who do not hear the aircraft alarm is therefore probably even higher than two million.

In addition, 14.5 percent of us have a significant hearing impairment, according to the interest group HLF. This makes the Norwegian Association of the Deaf concerned about the situation.

– There are no deaf people who hear this warning which is based on sound. Nor can the deaf hear what they say on the radio, says counselor Elisabeth Frantzen Holte.

– Older deaf people who live alone, deaf immigrants and those who may not be stable on the technology front also do not get information that may be shared afterwards through, for example, online newspapers, she says.

222 quiet municipalities

Aftenposten’s calculation shows that in 222 of the country’s municipalities no one lives close enough to a typhoon to be able to hear it.

Located during the Cold War

The typhoons were set up during the Cold War. They were located in cities and towns and near important factories.

Municipalities with a greater risk of air strikes in war were required to build more shelters than other municipalities. Several shelters yielded more typhoons.

– The warning facilities were primarily deployed to warn the population to go into refuge in the event of an air attack, explains department director in the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB), Sigurd Heier.

Now, however, both the threat picture and the settlement pattern are different. Yet the typhoons are still where they “always” have been.

Digital aircraft alarm is on its way

Therefore, DSB recommended in 2019 that a new system be established for notifying the mobile network, rather than expanding the current typhoon system.

The following year, this was further investigated by the Ministry of Justice, and costs and technical aspects have now been mapped by DSB. It is unclear when such a solution will be able to be used.

– It will also provide opportunities to reach far more people, as it is not only based on a sound signal, Heier says.

The mobile alert will be able to alert everyone who stays within a certain area, not just those who live there. In addition, you can notify faster in an emergency.

– With the typhoon warning, you only get one warning, and must seek information elsewhere. With mobile notification, we can notify and inform at the same time, and thus reach out faster, he explains.

However, the mobile alert will not replace the old typhoons, but will be a supplement, according to Heier.

– Typhoons must notify the population that they must seek information. This is especially important at night, because then many will not register that there is a message on the mobile and will not follow the media. The typhoons are robust and reliable, he says.

Where is your nearest typhoon?

In the map below you can see where all the country’s 1274 typhoons are located. Zoom out to see the whole of Norway.

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