Shelters are primarily designed to protect people from armed conflict. They can also be used as emergency accommodation, for example, in the event of an accident in a nuclear power plant or an earthquake. Shelters must protect against the effects of modern weapons, especially against the penetration of nuclear, biological or chemical warfare agents (NBC warfare agents) and against collateral damage from conventional weapons.
In everyday life, most shelters are used for other purposes. For example, they are used as a cellar, workshop or storage room or for company meetings. According to article 106 of the Ordinance on Civil Protection (OCPI) (in French: article 106 de l'Ordonnance sur la Protection civile), shelters must be made ready for use for the protection of the population within 5 days at the latest. The preparation of shelters, i.e. tidying up and setting up activites, must only be carried out when ordered by the authorities.
In the event of a concrete danger, the authorities warn the population by means of sirens and issue instructions on how to behave on the radio and via Alertswiss.
Before receiving a possible order to join a shelter, the Confederation will issue an order to prepare the shelters. Between these two orders (to prepare the shelter and the possibility, if the order is given, to join it) it should take, on average, 5 days. This delay will provide time for the transmission of information on the allocation of shelter places. It is therefore not possible at present to know one's place because the order to communicate the allocation of places will come only from the Confederation.
More information (FOCP)
All the sirens in the country will sound and you will have to listen to the radio or watch television to find out what to do. It is also recommended that you download as of now the federal application Alertswiss which will transmit all necessary information on the current situation.
In the event of an alert, you must avoid:
- Using emergency services (except in cases of extreme necessity)
- Using your mobile phone and communication networks in order not to overload the networks
- Using a vehicle or other means of transport only in an emergency.
More information (FOCP)
Several federal websites can help you prepare.
- The website of the Federal Office for National Economic Supplies (FONES) provides information on the preventive stockpiling of household supplies and basic necessities.
- The federal government provides regular information on measures for the protection of the population
- The Alertswiss website provides tips on how to prepare for an emergency
Allocation of shelters is announced when security requires it. The cantons and municipalities are obliged to manage the allocation plan and to keep it up to date.
It is currently not possible to find out which shelter you have been allocated. The information will be communicated when the Confederation has given the order to prepare the shelters, i.e. in principle 5 days before joining them.
Allocation of a protected place is done according to the communal allocation plan set up by the civil protection organisation (CPO) of your commune of residence.
No, shelter places are allocated according to the proximity of the place of residence.
According to the Federal Law on Civil Protection and Civil Defence (LPPCi) (in French: Loi fédérale sur la protection de la population et la Protection Civile), every inhabitant must be granted a protected spot near his or her place of residence.
Your spot in a shelter is necessarily located in the immediate vicinity of your place of residence.
If the obligation to go to a shelter is activated, a person with reduced mobility should anticipate the need for help to get to the shelter. Assistance may be requested from a neighbour. This is a matter of solidarity.
My family from abroad is visiting us. If the authorities order us to go down to the shelters, will they be able to join us even if the capacity of the shelter is filled with the inhabitants of the building?
In case of emergency, your family from abroad can go to the shelter even if the capacity is reached. However, there is a risk of a potential dispute with the officially allocated occupants. Therefore, in case of prolonged stay in the shelters, these persons should be reassigned to another location by the civil protection organisation responsible for the allocation plan.
There are approximately 12,000 shelters in the canton of Geneva. This represents a coverage rate of 84% (figures from the Federal Office for Civil Protection - FOCP).
The coverage rate is constantly increasing and the communes are working without delay to meet their legal obligations.
In case of emergency, you should go to the shelter in which a place is allocated and follow the instructions given as soon as the occupancy order is issued by the Confederation.
There may be shelters shared by several owners. If a space is allocated in a neighbour's shelter, the neighbour is obliged to allow the beneficiary to occupy his or her spot.
According to the Federal Law on the Protection of the Population and Civil Protection (LPPCi) (in French: Loi fédérale sur la protection de la population et la Protection Civile, only the inhabitants are entitled to a protected place (permanent resident population).
However, it is obvious that this will depend on the situation. If we were to have enough time (a few days) to prepare and reach the shelters at a specific time communicated by the authorities, professional activities would probably be suspended and everyone would have to move to their assigned spot in their place of residence. People who do not live in the canton should then contact the relevant authorities in their canton or country. Depending on the situation, every effort will naturally be made to protect as many people as possible.
According to the Federal Law on Civil Protection and Civil Defence (LPPCi) (in French: Loi fédérale sur la protection de la population et la Protection Civile), it is the people living in the commune according to the established allocation plan. Depending on the situation, every effort will of course be made to protect as many people as possible.
The organisation allocation plan determines the distribution.
It has been calculated that the shelter should be reachable as quickly as possible, so it is located close to your home.
Yes, if the cellar is used as a shelter. However, the cellar should not be emptied until the authorities have ordered you to do so.
It is up to each person to empty and prepare his or her shelter, even if it means asking for help from neighbours.
This depends on the type of bed planned in the shelter. In most cases beds should be stored near the shelter.
Maintenance of a shelter is the responsibility of the owner. If the door is not operational, the owner must commission a private company to do the repair.
Shelters are designed to allow for short or extended stays (from a few hours to several days). The population should be able to provide for itself for several days without external assistance. The Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES) therefore advises people to stock up on domestic provisions for about a week. These include, primarily, storable foodstuffs and 9 litres of water per person, plus essential medicines. Beyond this period and in special cases, the authorities can distribute food, water and other basic goods, for example with the support of civilian protection.
The aim is to provide shelters for the whole population. Shelters are not designed to accommodate pets. However, it is possible to bring a pet into a shelter in certain cases, depending on the size and occupation of the shelter.
It is always advisable to go to a shelter when the competent authority orders it.
The best known type of shelter is the private shelter in the cellar of a single-family house or a rental property. This type of shelter generally offers a protected space for 5 to 50 people, depending on the size of the building. Many municipalities also have large public shelters. They are located, for example, under school or administrative buildings.
Private and public shelters must be maintained by their owners.
You can go directly to the approved suppliers.
In Switzerland, the principle of "one protected place per inhabitant" applies. Some 365,000 private and public shelters have around 9 million protected places. This represents a coverage rate of more than 100%, taking into account the differences between cantons, regions and localities.