Dutch Donderdag – Keep Calm & Carry On

I’d been in Amsterdam for a few months when a friend of mine from the UK came over to visit. On one of our excursions we went to Artis Zoo to spend the day looking at animals in (in my opinion) rather small habitats. It was lunch time & as we decided to head to the restaurant our relaxed discussion was abruptly curtailed by the blaring of an air-raid siren. What was going on? Had a lion escaped? Were we about to be savaged by rampaging meerkats? Staff walking about us seem nonplussed & after about a minute the wailing ceased. Having satisfied ourselves that we weren’t about to become of the lunch of one of the exhibits we went off to find our own, still not entirely sure what had just happened.

It’s a bit sad to admit that I’d been living in the country for just over four months & that was the first time I’d heard the warning siren… a siren which gets tested the first Monday of every month at lunch time. Maybe the previous months the sound of the TV, or my chewing, had drowned it out.

Warning siren

The sirens have been sounding regularly since their test re-introduction in 2003(1)& are there to warn citizens of a multitude of ills(2)including terrorist attack, nuclear disaster or an epidemic (all very cheery stuff). On hearing the alarm (on a non-test day) the city inhabitants need to return to their homes & turn the TV/radio on for further details (presumably before they die).

Quite what is supposed to happen if disaster should strike at 12pm on the first Monday of the month currently alludes me.


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