DFES - Department of Fire and Emergency Services
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Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS)

The Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS) is a warning signal that is broadcast immediately prior to major emergency announcements on the radio, television and other communication systems.

The purpose of SEWS is to alert the communit​y that an official emergency announcement is about to be made concerning an actual or imminent emergency that has the potential to affect them.

People are strongly advised to become familiar with the sound.

To listen to the SEWS sound click here (MP3 - 126 KB)

What should I do if I hear the SEWS broadcast?

  • Stop what you are doing
  • Listen carefully to the information provided
  • Act as directed

Who decides to use SEWS?

In Western Australia SEWS broadcasts are authorised by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) or the Regional Director of the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) for weather and flood related events.

When deciding to issue SEWS, The authorities will consider the following four factors:

  • Possible loss of life or a major threat to a large number of properties or the large scale environment
  • Impact is expected within 12 hours or is occurring at the time
  • A large number of people need to be warned
  • One or more incidents are classified as destructive

When is SEWS used?

SEWS is only used in emerging situations of extreme danger, when there is a need to warn people that they need to take urgent and immediate action to reduce the potential for loss to life or property from emergency events.

Such events will be restricted to:

  • Cyclone
  • Major bushfire/major urban and rural fire
  • Tsunami
  • Severe flood leading to residential inundation
  • Intense rainfall leading to flash flooding and/or landslides
  • Storm surge
  • Hazardous materials emergency
  • Biological hazard/major pollution, hazardous material or biohazard emergency
  • Earthquake aftershock
  • Dam failure/dam burst
  • Public safety emergency

For more information, visit the following links:​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

FESA-SEWS-Brochure.pdfSEWS Brochure215 KB
FESA-SEWS-MediaBooklet.pdfSEWS Media Booklet242 KB
FESA-SEWS-NationalGuidelines.pdfSEWS National Guidelines281 KB
FESA-SEWS-QuestionsandAnswers.pdfSEWS Questions and Answers195 KB