The most important emergency number in Switzerland and in Europe is 112. If you dial 112, you will be connected with the police emergency control centre. You can also call this number using a foreign SIM card or when using a prepaid mobile phone card with no credit.
Other emergency numbers
‹Helping Hand› counselling helpline
143 (CHF 0.20 per call)
Toxicological information centre (in case of suspected poisoning)
Pro Juventute helpline for children and young people
SBB Transport Police
0800 117 117
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) Helpline (consular services)
If there is an imminent danger to the population of Switzerland, a siren is sounded. There are two types of alarm signals:
The general alarm is sounded if there is a danger to the population. Sirens are sounded with a regularly ascending and descending tone, lasting one minute and repeated once in the following five minutes: https://youtu.be/6x93o2HDSLA.
The water alarm is used solely for alerting people living downhill from dams. The signal consists of twelve low tones lasting twenty seconds at ten-second intervals: https://youtu.be/Z0CBTr5FFZ4.
The annual siren test takes place on the first Wednesday in February. You can find more information on alarm signals on the website of the Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP).
The free Alertswiss App informs you about natural disasters such as floods or forest fires and alerts you on to dangers such as chemical or nuclear power station accidents and potential terrorist attacks.
What to do if you hear the general alarm?
Consult the Alertswiss app or website for information and listen to the radio. Swiss television (SRG) and many private radio stations broadcast the instructions of the authorities on what to do in a disaster or emergency.
Follow their instructions.
Inform your neighbours.
What to do if your hear the water alarm?
Leave the danger area immediately.
Follow the instructions of the authorities and on local information sheets, and consult the Alertswiss app.
If there is a fire, every second counts. Here is what you should do: alert – rescue – extinguish.
Alert: Call 118 (fire service); Warn people at risk
Rescue: Rescue people and animal; Do not put yourself in danger
Extinguish: Fight the fire; Brief the firefighters
You can find further information on what to do in a fire here (in German and French).
If you are involved in a traffic accident, you must stop immediately regardless of whose fault it is. If you do not stop or you leave the scene of the accident, you are liable to prosecution. If people are injured or die and you leave the scene of the accident, the incident is considered to be a hit-and-run offence.
What to do in a traffic accident?
Get an overview of the incident.
Secure the scene of the accident.
Provide emergency assistance.
Alert the emergency services.
Attend to injured persons.
Here is a detailed checklist on what to do in an accident (in German and French).
What to do in an accident on the motorway?
For accidents on the motorway, additional procedures apply:
If possible, drive the vehicle immediately onto the hard shoulder and switch on the hazard lights.
Alert the police (on 117 or 112) before carefully leaving the vehicle.
Do not leave the vehicle if by doing so you are putting yourself in danger.
Once out of the vehicle, put on a high-visibility safety vest.
Take yourself to safety away from the carriageway.
Walk along the hard shoulder in the direction of the oncoming traffic, waving the warning triangle.
Position the warning triangle where it is clearly visible, around 100 metres from the accident, to secure the scene.
Damage to vehicles
If there is damage to vehicles, you should:
leave the vehicles where they are and photograph them from all sides if possible.
complete the European accident statement, which should be in every glove compartment (you should have received one from your insurance company). You can also download it here or get one from the police.
always alert the police, even if a person is only slightly injured or anyone involved in the accident becomes difficult. If in doubt, alert the police.
report the damage to your car insurer immediately.
The Alertswiss app provides alerts and information free of charge: https://www.alert.swiss/en/app.html
Instructions on using the automatic emergency call feature on smartphones:
First-aid app of the Swiss Red Cross, free of charge:
The ‹HELP Notfall› app from the Swiss Heart foundation, free of charge, explains life-saving measures in the event of a cardiovascular or cerebral stroke: