Natural dangers

Natural dangers include severe storms (wind, precipitation, thunderstorms, icy roads), floods, avalanches, mudslides, forest fires and earthquakes. In Switzerland various specialist agencies are competent with regard to natural dangers: MeteoSwiss for weather events, the Federal Office for the Environment for floods and forest fires, the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research ( WSL SLF) and the Swiss Seismological Service (SSS). Natural events abroad may also have an impact on Switzerland. An example are volcanic eruptions that interfere with air traffic.

As far as natural dangers are concerned (with the exception of earthquakes) early warning is decisive. NEOC disseminates warnings and forecasts from the various agencies to the affected cantons and other partners in the situation network. In the event of an earthquake, a message is automatically sent from the SED to the NEOC containing preliminary information on magnitude and epicentre. It is immediately passed on to the cantonal operations and emergency call centres. Depending on strength and expected damage partner organisations are informed or task force organisations are called up.

In the event of severe events (such as the storms of 2007 or 2013) NEOC runs a federal reporting and situation centre. At the same time the NEOC is in contact with the cantonal management bodies concerned and the specialist agencies and makes situation reports and maps regularly that summarise the situation and anticipated national developments. NEOC is also the cantons' single point of contact for all concerns relating to civil protection.

In the event of major danger the federal specialist authorities are entitled to issue warnings that relate to natural dangers subject to obligatory disclosure. They have to be broadcast by all radio and television providers to the region concerned. NEOC sees that these reports are published. They are aimed at improving the population's ability to protect itself against major perceivable natural dangers and consequently avoiding or limiting human harm and material damage.