How Switzerland is Better Prepared for the Apocalypse than You

By Rachael Funk

Any responsible Doomsday Prepper, just like any responsible Boy Scout, knows the importance of being prepared. Even if you aren’t stocking your basement with home defense items in anticipation of an invasion, having a disaster plan for your home is a great idea! A shining example of a country determined to prepare for the worst is, perhaps surprisingly, Switzerland.

Between plans to make the country inaccessible to outside forces and enough nuclear war-ready shelters to protect all 8 million Swiss citizens, Switzerland's disaster readiness has been top-notch for decades. Here are a few of our favorite Swiss strategies:

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Fallout Shelters

According to articles 45 and 46 of the Swiss Federal Law on Civil Protection, each inhabitant of Switzerland must have a protected place they can get to quickly from where they live. In 2006, there were 300,000 shelters in Swiss dwellings and 5,100 public shelters. At the time of the survey, that was enough to protect 114% of Switzerland’s population!

Annual Siren Testing

The Swiss government maintains a network of about 7,200 sirens across the country to use as a warning system in case of emergency. Two types of warning sirens are used; one to indicate general disaster and one to warn people who live under dams of imminent water-related danger. The sirens are always tested on the first Wednesday in February. Though helpful in a pinch, this system is not very modern, so the Swiss government has been developing…

Alertswiss Phone App

Available for iOS and Android, the Alertswiss app is a precautionary measure to help the residents of Switzerland deal with disasters and emergencies. Currently, they are working on capabilities to send up-to-date warnings, alerts, and information on disasters and emergencies via the app as well.


Switzerland requires all able-bodied men to serve in the armed forces for at least 260 days, which can be served three or four weeks a year until they reach the required amount of time or turn 34. For those who are eligible but have moral objections, there is an option to apply for weaponless or civil service instead. Though Switzerland has about 150,000 active military personnel, if they are invaded, they have nearly 4,000,000 citizens immediately available for service with an additional 3,000,000 who have been deemed fit for service. Basically, if you're going to pick a fight with Switzerland, you're going to pick a fight with A-L-L of Switzerland.

National Redoubt

If you thought the bunkers and the sirens were cute, wait until you hear about Switzerland’s National Redoubt! This defensive plan, which began back in the 1880s to respond to foreign invasion, is a fascinating piece of Swiss history. During World War II and the Cold War, extreme defense measures were taken such as tunneling through mountains and building secret fortifications inside. Artillery camouflaged as barns and houses were strategically placed across the country to be accessed at a moment's notice. Using the chain of fortresses and bunkers, the Swiss planned to keep control of the mountains and crucial transit routes. Though many of these facilites have been decommissioned and put to commercial use, Reuters reported that about one thousand may still be available and ready for use if needed.

Additionally, in an effort to use the Alps as a roadblock to invasions, part of the defense preparations included heavily wiring mountains and infrastructure like roads and bridges with explosives. Nothing would make invasion as exhausting and tedious to outside forces as simply blowing up convenient access routes! Though the bridges along the border with Germany have since been cleared, the Swiss military refuses to comment on whether the explosives rigged to infrastructure within Switzerland’s borders remain, citing national security.

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