Heightened State of Alert and War

To strengthen the country's defence capability, the state of alert may be heightened. During a state of heightened alert, all of society must work together to ensure essential functions.

Heightened state of alert

The Swedish government can decide on a heightened state of alert to strengthen Sweden's defence capabilities. This can happen, for example, in the event of war or conflict in our immediate geographical area, or if the situation abroad seriously affects our country or threatens our security and independence. In the event of a heightened state of alert, you must follow the advice of the authorities and keep up to date with what is happening. If you have a deployment duty, then you must report for duty immediately.

You will receive information about the state of alert via radio and television. Swedish Radio P4 is an emergency channel and must be able to quickly reach the public with important information in the event of a crisis or heightened alert.

Other laws may apply during heightened states of alert

Increased readiness gives the government more freedom to act and make various decisions, and other laws can be used alongside those that apply in peacetime. For example, the government can assume control of private property needed for total defence. This may include buildings, transport or machinery.

Increased preparedness also means, among other things, that municipalities and public authorities must adapt their organisation and operations to the special requirements that apply. For example, municipalities are obliged to maintain services such as elderly care, schools and sanitation even in difficult circumstances.

Shelters during heightened state of alert and war

There are approximately 65,000 shelters in Sweden with space for about seven million people. If the shelters must be used in a war, or if the government has declared a heightened state of alert, they must be ready for use within two days.

The shelters are located in different types of buildings, such as residential and industrial buildings. You should immediately go to a shelter, or other protective space, if an air-raid alarm goes off. The alarm consists of short bursts of sound for one minute.

Outdoor alarms are used in case of serious incidents

The VMA is normally communicated via radio and television. However, in the event of serious incidents, Hesa Fredrik, the outdoor warning system for important messages, is also used. The outdoor warning system can be used for emergency alerts and air raid warnings in case of war in Sweden.

How to prepare for a crisis

Crises and wars can prevent society from operating normally. For example, disruptions to electricity and water supplies may occur. World events may also cause shortages of certain foodstuffs.

Be prepared with one weeks’ worth of supplies

In a crisis, aid will go first to those who need it most. Plan to be able to manage without public assistance for a week, preferably longer if you can. Start with your own and your neighbours' circumstances and needs.

Tips for your home preparedness:

Food: It is important to have extra food at home that provides sufficient calories. Use non-perishable food that can be prepared quickly, requires little water or can be eaten without cooking.

Water: clean drinking water is essential for life. Provide for at least three litres per adult per day. If you are unsure of water quality, you must be able to boil the water. If the toilet doesn't work, you can take heavy plastic bags and place them in the toilet seat.

Heating: if electricity goes out in winter, your home will quickly become cold. Gather in one room, hang blankets over the windows and cover the floor with rugs. Beware of fire hazards. Extinguish all open flames before going to sleep. Air the room regularly to get oxygen in.

Communication: in the event of a serious incident, you need to be able to receive important information, especially from Swedish Radio P4. You also need to be able to follow media reports, keep in touch with relatives and, in emergencies, reach the emergency services, medical services or police.

The pamphlet If Crisis or War Comes (pdf) by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) contains more information about what can happen when society’s essential functions in society no longer work normally.

Think critically about sources

States and organisations already use misleading information to try to influence our values and how we act. The aim may be to reduce our resilience and our willingness to defend ourselves. The best protection against false information and hostile propaganda is to be critical of sources.

Being critical of sources means evaluating the information you receive. It means understanding that some sources are more credible than others, and being aware that those distributing information do so for a purpose.

Questions to ask:

  • Is this fact or opinion?
  • What purpose does this information have?
  • Who is the sender?
  • Is the source credible?
  • Is the information available elsewhere?
  • Is the information new or old, and why is it there now?