Don’t Sound the Alarm

Old alarm bell on display in Kibbutz Nir David

In Israel, it just isn’t effective.

A few weeks ago, we visited the Negev with the kids. On the way, we went through a kibbutz that theoretically is within kassam rocket range from Gaza. As we were sitting there, the kids playing in the playground, and us having a leisurely lunch under some trees, the air raid sirens started wailing.

I looked around.


People kept on walking, kids kept on playing. The sirens went through their 2 minutes long wail and that was it. About half an hour later, it happened again. I have no idea if a rocket launch had been detected in Gaza, or if someone was testing the sirens. Either case, nobody seemed bothered.

It’s not unique to air raid sirens either. I was visiting a new supermarket with my son yesterday and the fire alarm went off. The place was crowded, yet other than complaining about the noise, nobody reacted.

Now, I don’t know what it’s like in other places. From movies and TV Shows I’ve seen, people in the US appear to be more disciplined: fire alarm goes off and everyone calmly walks out of the shop, waiting outside for the all clear.

Never ever seen it happen in Israel.

I need to clarify something here – people aren’t careless. If you are in Sderot and the air raid sirens go off, you dive for shelter. Where the risk is real, people react. However, it’s the risk that people respond to – not the “instruction”. I think it’s yet another indication of the inherently anarchistic nature of Israelis – do what you think is right, not what the “powers to be” tell you to.

How do people where you live react to fire alarms (or air raid sirens if you have them)? Do they follow the official guidelines?

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5 Responses to Don’t Sound the Alarm

  1. Michael says:

    We had something similar happen in Australia with bushfire alerts. After the terrible “Black Saturday” fires in Victoria last year authorities over reacted and implemented a new warning system.

    It includes a “catastrophic” alert, under which schools are closed in designated fire areas and people are advised to prepare for evacuation.

    It’s based on the weather forecast, not actual fires, so nobody takes any notice except the parents who have to make arrangements for their school kids.
    .-= Michael´s last blog ..Good citizenship =-.

  2. Jad Aoun says:

    LOL – the same here. Arabs don’t take alarms seriously.
    .-= Jad Aoun´s last blog ..“Road Like Those in Beirut” =-.

  3. Kate C says:

    I don’t know, I think most people in the US usually go looking for whatever is causing the alarm. Fire? Cool! Let’s go find it! Tornado siren? Let’s run outside with a video camera! The tsunami warnings always bring big crowds to the coast out here. It might not be the smartest reaction, but CNN can usually find good footage from somebody with a camera running TOWARDS the disaster in the US.

  4. Aviva says:

    I know that in Germany when the fire alarm set off everyone was trying to get to the street to the assigned area for gathering. But who is really surprised by that information.

    On the other hand, I sat there with you and I could not have even said if this is an airraid siren or a fire alarm of somebody’s car alarm going off. It was not out of bad will that I didn’t do anything, I’m just illiterated than it comes to airraid sirens so to say.

  5. Couple of days before in front of my office a PNB showrooms caught a big fire. Only the reasons of firing is failers of alarm.

    Now they set a alarm, even on my office also very serious about alarm.
    .-= business finance´s last blog ..Business Management As A Limited Partner =-.