With things kicking off in these parts (as they do now and again – yes, just to remind you this is the Middle East!), we thought it might be an idea to give some practical tips to those of you experiencing the chilling and frightening sounds of the air raid sirens in Israel for the first time.
For official instructions from the Israel Home Command, see the official site in English.
Read what it was like when we heard the sirens sounding in Tel Aviv during the Gulf War and the Scuds rained down.
A little bit tongue in cheek, a little serious…
- Run for it! By running for it, we mean run for cover, and follow those around you, if possible. Depending on where you’re located, you’ll only have a few seconds before the missiles land. According to the Israel Home Command, you have something like 90 seconds if you’re in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Rishon Letzion, and the further south and closer to Gaza, the less time you’ll have.
- Check your calendar and make sure it’s not Memorial Day! The sirens also sound on Memorial Day and Holocaust Day, so just double-check before you start panicking.
- If you’re on the top floor of a building, go down a couple of floors. Logical really, as the missiles will typically rain down from above. The lower you go, the safer you should be.
- If you can’t make it to a shelter, keep away from doors and windows, and try to make it to a stairwell. If you’re out on the streets, the best place to head for is the closest stairwell of the closest building. The stairwell should be fortified enough to stand any impact.
- Practice your Hebrew swearing. Be as one with your fellow stairwell / shelter refugees, who will undoubtedly be uttering some Hebrew profanities under their breaths…
- If you’re driving, get out and lie down. If you’re out driving and have no idea where the nearest shelter is, and there are no stairwells nearby, lie down and cover your head with your hands.
- Don’t use the elevators/lifts. Not the best place to be if a missile hits your building…
- Wait TEN minutes once the siren ends. Ten minutes should be enough time for the “all clear” and for you to continue sunbathing/drinking beer/sightseeing.
- Stay cool. No use in panicking, especially if kids are close by. If you’re British, keep that stiff upper lip applied at all times.
- Make sure you’ve got some vodka handy. Vodka always helps, and if you’re feeling the tension, will wash away some of those shaky hand/leg moments. Highly recommended.