First Monday of the month: Test siren in The Netherlands

If you’re new to The Netherlands, at midday on the first Monday of the month you might wonder what that siren sound is! In Dutch, it is called a Waarschuwingsstelsel.

It sounds each month, and should be able to be heard no matter where you are located in The Netherlands. There is a network of the sirens of about 4200 located around the country and they look like this:

Sirene op paal

They can be operated separately from the regional fire departments and are owned by the  Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties.  (Ministry of Internal Affairs)

If you hear this sound and it’s NOT midday on the first Monday of the month, it’s a warning to go inside, shut all doors and windows and turn on your tv or radio for updates. Of course these are likely to be in Dutch.  You can also check the website to see if there are current warnings or about how to prepare for an emergency – and they do have an english section here:  There is also a handy english downloadable PDF with handy information on what to do in various kinds of emergencies.  Click on the english site link above to download a copy. (unfortunately they seem to have discontinued this link and English information.)Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 11.01.30 AM

2018 Update: 

Today 03-12-18 I received this message:

CONTROLEBERICHT.  U hoeft niets to doen.  Meer informatie op

English translation:

TEST MESSAGE: You don’t need to do anything.  More information at

Emergency Alert Mobile The Netherlands
Test message

There are several videos on YouTube if you want to preview the siren sound, here’s one:

There is a Wikipedia entry if you’d like to read more about warning sirens around the world. 


Dutch Australian is a community of those with connections to both Australian and The Netherlands.  This blog follows the adventures of our Dutch Australian family as well as highlighting information and articles of interest to dual nationals.  You might like to read more about me, get to know other Dutch Australian people and explore other articles on the blog.  Come and chat to others over in the Dutch Australian Facebook community, we’d love to meet you!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate you taking the time to comment below or share.  You can also contact me directly and sign up for our e-newsletter to keep up to date.

14 thoughts on “First Monday of the month: Test siren in The Netherlands

    1. We have really, really, really small tornados in the provinces Limburg and Noord-Brabant. On rare occasions though 😀

  1. First time I heard it I was looking up in the sky for the Luftwaffe. Only time I ever heard that sound was from air raid sirens from WW2 movies. Yikes!

  2. Just heard it earlier today in the main square in Amsterdam after the effects of some mushrooms we had taken earlier had just fully kicked in. We were petrified and lost, definitely very lost. Despite being in the main square.

  3. First time I heard it I thought it was a sunamy warning… In such case going home would not be a good idea.. My home is 4m below sea level :’D

  4. But what exactly are they for ? Floods wind or war ? OK go inside an listen for reports. But what happens if there is a power failure? Do they have bomb shelters? Do they have evacuation signs for higher ground which is above Sea level?

    1. Yes we do if you hear a syren it means you should listen to a battery powered radio. It’s all on the pictures before the recommended section

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