Tag Archive | Civil defense siren

Air-raid Siren Plans

tzeva adom, air raid siren, rocket attacks, kassams, grads, israel, security, hamas rockets, israel, peace, safety, color red

The Hebrew on top says, “Warning!” On the bottom, it says, “Color Red,” (the highest level of alert).

Back in January, I joined a Hebrew-language forum on a site that caters to religious Jews.  As with all communities, it takes a while to get used to the unwritten rules.  I had a few ups and downs, but have pretty much become part of the online community and settled in.

Last night someone started a thread on what to do when there is an air-raid siren.  She asked for tips from people living in areas that get a lot of sirens and rockets.  She has two kids: a two year old who sleeps in the next room, and a baby who sleeps in the parents’ room.  Their “protected space” is an alcove by their front door.  She has 60 seconds to get them both in.  And her question was how should she do it, if her husband happens to not be home at that moment.  If he is home, it’s simple – they each take one kid.  But if he’s not, how will she manage to get both kids into the protected space within 60 seconds?

It’s a really sad question, and a tough one, too.  It’s something that I think about a lot.  Right after Shlomo was born, Yitzchak and I made an earthquake plan and a rocket plan and a chemical-weapon plan.  And we started putting together an emergency kit, equipped to deal with all three situations (it’s not finished yet – most of what is missing is food and appropriate clothing for chemical attacks).

Her question got a lot of answers.  Some people said that they just gave up – they can’t get all their kids into the protected space within fifteen seconds, and they can’t choose, either.  Some people said that 60 seconds is a lot of time.  I guess that depends.  But if your protected space is nearby, and you have  a minute and a half until the rocket falls, that time can feel like forever (I know).  One person said that technically they have fifteen seconds, but she often hears the rocket fall within that time.

And the saddest response was someone who wrote that they listen to where the siren is coming from, and if it’s not close, they don’t go.  That means that they’ve been listening and detecting where the siren is coming from for way too long.

And that’s really, really sad.

Just remind me – who is occupying who over here?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Me, I’m not willing to give up my minute and a half.  I want to move somewhere where we’ll have at least that amount of time, and if we have two minutes, all the better.  I know that in the middle of the night it’s not fun.  But at least in the daytime, when you’re not necessarily beside a safe room, you have time to run.

And I won’t rent an apartment without a safe room.  And the safe room will be the kids’ room.

One person wrote that during Operation Cast Lead, she was in charge of a branch of one of the youth groups, and her branch invited a branch from the line of fire to join them.  The two branches started playing tag.  Guess who ran faster . . .

Then, of course, there’s always the emotional effects of the sirens.

I think the best thing that could happen is that Hamas, Hezbollah, and the other terrorist organizations will get mad at each other and do the dirty work for us.  Then, at least, we will have quiet.

In the meantime, Netanyahu doesn’t seem to care about what’s happening, as long as it doesn’t affect him personally.  Neither does the rest of the world, of course, but that’s not surprising; it’s pretty much expected.








Note: Not every apartment has a safe room.  Sometimes the “protected space” is just the space the has the fewest outdoor walls and is not the kitchen or the bathroom.  Some apartment buildings have a first-floor bomb shelter that all the tenants use, even the ones on the fourth floor or higher.  And some apartment buildings don’t have anything, and you have to choose, in a split second, whether to make a run for the neighborhood bomb shelter (which may be too far away or too old to be really safe) or the stairwell (which may be better than staying where you are but not necessarily is it 100% safe).  

Not Politics, But . . .

road sign, dangerous for israelis, palestinian village, israelis barred from enteringDespite the byline of this blog, I try not to get too deep into politics.  One of the reasons I try to avoid it is that, as I have stated, it makes me mad.  Let’s be clear: The only politics that interest me are the ones that affect me.  Is that a narrow view?  Perhaps.  But honestly, I am too busy to follow anything else.  And if that weren’t enough, I have a fiery enough personality that I don’t want to get involved in issues that don’t directly involve me.  What does involve me takes enough of a toll, thanks very much.

But this is not politics.  This is life; this is war.  I know I said I was just going to stick my head in the sand, but it’s kind of not possible.  It’s not possible because there are so many people in this country who are hurt and killed by Hamas and other terrorist groups.  And it’s not possible, because in the middle of an ordinary day, I hear an air raid siren.  And it’s not the first time, either; this happened on Friday, as well.

Probably, most of my readers have never heard such a sound.  World War 2 has long since passed, and America never really had air raids then, anyways, except in Pearl Harbor.  And the Europeans reading this blog, like the Americans, are probably too young to remember the air raids, even if their grandparents will.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I am suspicious that Israel is the only country that has constant air raid sirens sounding, from threats outside its borders.  Somehow, I have a feeling that no other country would put up with such a thing.  I am not talking about the Syrian or Egyptian revolutions.  Those are inside wars, civil (or not-so-civil) wars.  I am talking about one country being under constant threat from an outside group, from enemies not part of that country’s nation.  I think we are the only ones who have to deal with that.  Which is why it makes me mad that everyone gets mad at us for defending ourselves.

Do you know what an air raid siren is like?  No?  I’ll tell you:

You are in the middle of a normal day, and suddenly you hear the siren.  Hopefully, you are not in the shower or on the toilet when it goes off, and also hopefully, you are fully dressed.  Here in Jerusalem, as I said previously, we have a whole minute and a half.  When you hear the siren, and realize what it is and that it is for real (something that takes about 3.5 seconds), you panic.

Then you run.  Wait, you need shoes.  You have a whole minute and a half, so you can take ten seconds to find your shoes.  You find them.  Then you grab your shoes and your kid and start out the door.  Wait, you need to either leave it open or take a key.  You find the key and run.  Wait, you need your phone so that you can call your spouse to make sure they’re okay.  You grab your phone.  Then you run, with shoes, keys, phone, and kid.

You make it into the bomb shelter, and put your shoes on while trying to call your spouse.  Um, no reception; it’s a bomb shelter.  You move to a slightly different spot in the shelter, and get a bar or two of reception.  You call.  No answer.  Then the lines are all busy, because every single person in your entire city, and those around it, that also heard the siren, are trying to do exactly the same as you: call their loved ones.  Then you call and it goes through, but disconnects.  And again.  And again.  Then it doesn’t go through.  And again.  And again.

You think, “Well, he/she probably doesn’t have reception, either,” or “Maybe their battery died and that’s why it goes straight to voicemail.”  Let me tell you, thinking that your spouse’s cell phone died in the middle of an air raid is a pretty scary thought.  There’s always the scarier thoughts than these, too, but I will not list them, for obvious reasons.  You comfort yourself that your spouse will call you from someone else’s phone if theirs died.  It’s not too comforting a thought.  Finally, finally, one of you gets through and you both get the reassurance that everyone is fine.

And finally, the radio declares where the rocket fell, and whether there were any injuries or casualties.  Then, you wait another five minutes (you should stay in the shelter for ten minutes after the siren goes off), and go back to normal.  The adrenaline is still rushing, your hands are still shaking, and every motorcycle sounds like an air raid siren.

After about forty-five minutes, your hands stop shaking, but the adrenaline rush is still there.  After seven hours, you can’t hear an air-raid siren on the radio, a bus going down the hill, or a motorcycle’s engine starting up, without saying, “Shhh,” to everyone around – because you want to hear if it’s a siren.  And this fear, this imaginary siren, accompanies you throughout the entire day, and sometimes even when you sleep.  It gets to the point where you wonder if you should shower – because if there’s a siren, it will take you about a minute and a half to get dressed and get your kid out the door.  And all you have is a minute and a half.  Then you think about those people who have fifteen seconds, or zero seconds, and wonder how they live.  You wonder if they have gotten used to it, and if you ever will.  You wonder if getting used to such a thing is good.  And you wonder if you are nuts for living in a war zone, and if you should just buy plane tickets to go somewhere else.