Four Minute Warning

April 1, 2009 at 4:36 pm 1 comment


I was working alone in an office in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, at noon today when the four-minute warning sounded across the city.

The alarm took the format of an old WWII air raid siren accompanied by a repeated announcement which I clearly did not understand at the time, it being in Czech. But, being a native of the nation that survived the Blitz and the Cold War I did not panic. I did what every sensible person would do at times such as these. I went onto Facebook and left a message saying goodbye to all my friends and telling my wife that I loved her.

My sense of panic increased a tad when a friend responded saying that she too was in the middle of a similar warning but that she was in Clermont Ferrand in France. Were the Russians invading Western Europe? Were aliens taking advantage of the G20 summit in London to wipe out the planet’s leaders in one fell swoop?

I was distracted somewhat by suggestions from another friend who shall remain nameless (Vanessa Coll) about what I could do with the remaining three minutes of my like. Frankly, however, most were impractical, illegal and anatomically impossible. But that is the kind of girl she is 😉 Always good in a crisis.

As it turns out, the city-wide security alarm is tested every first Wednesday of the month. This follows lessons learnt during the flooding of the city in 2002. I do not know how the public announcement in Czech translates. Presumably it means something like “this is a test” or “non-Czech speakers are in danger of drowning”.


Entry filed under: Cautionary Tales, travel. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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