Your guide to Poland’s weather & disaster mobile alert system

If you have a Polish mobile phone, then on Friday afternoon you probably received an alarming message in Polish from ALERT RCB:

Uwaga! Dzis gwaltowne burze, grad, silny wiatr i ulewny dedzcz. Wzrost stanow rzek. Unikaj otwartych przestrzeni, zabezpiecz dobytek. Sledz komunikaty pogodowe.

No, it wasn’t a hacker, spam, or your creepy ex. If you didn’t translate it at the time, you may have been surprised by the violent storm later that night:

Warning! Today heavy storms, hail, strong wind, and heavy rain. Rising river levels. Avoid open spaces, secure your belongings. Tracking weather reports.

So, what’s up?

Who is RCB?

RCB stands for Rządowe Centrum Bezpieczeństwa (Government Security Center). It’s the Polish crisis management office under the direction of the prime minister, started in 2008.

Why did I get this alert?

An amendment to the Telecommunications Law earlier this year requires the agency to begin warning people on mobile networks in Poland of “extraordinary situations when life and health are in immediate danger.” That may include weather and other natural disasters, but also possibly military or terrorist threats. (Hopefully whoever is in charge of pressing the “send” button is a little more careful than the folks in Hawaii.)

Can I unsubscribe?

No. According to the government, the law does not allow people to opt out, in the interests of public safety. Fortunately, at least it’s free, it will hopefully be used sparingly, and it doesn’t collect any data about you.

Well, can I at least get it in English?

Currently this does not seem to be possible. However, here is a list of Polish terms which you may find useful in a pinch:

Weather (Pogoda)

burza – thunderstorm

wiatr – wind

deszcz – rain

ulewa – heavy rain

deszcz marznący – freezing rain

deszcz ze śniegiem – sleet

śnieg – snow

lód – ice

grad – hail

powódź – flood

wzrost stanow rzek – rising river levels

trzęsienie ziemi – earthquake

pożary lasów – wildfire

niebezpieczne drogi – dangerous roads


Military

atak rakietowy – missile attack

atak terrorystyczny – terrorist attack

atak biologiczny – biological attack

atak chemiczny – chemical attack

wybuch – explosion

aktywny zabójca/aktywny strzelec – active killer/shooter

zamieszki – riots/unrest

stan wojenny – martial law


Instructions

zostań w środku – stay inside

unikaj… – avoid…

otwartych przestrzeni – open spaces

nie prowadź – do not drive


Other contingencies

inwazja obcych – alien invasion

apokalipsa zombie – zombie apocalypse

wielcy starzy bogowie – Lovecraftian old gods

kaijū – Japanese monster

deszcz pająków – spider rain

derby Krakowa w piłce nożnej/Święta Wojna – Wisła vs. Cracovia football match

fałszywy alarm – false alarm


Aleksandra Gabka contributed to this article.

One thought on “Your guide to Poland’s weather & disaster mobile alert system

  • August 24, 2018 at 3:38 pm
    Permalink

    We have these in the US. It’s helpful, especially in places with extreme weather.

    Reply

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