Today they are conducting the annual test of the alarm system in Switzerland. We were warned of this by our landlady so we would not panic and run to the Bomb Shelter* in the basement.
The alarms started to go off at 1:30 pm. Even though I was prepared, I was still quite startled. Because I was expecting Alarms with a Capital "A."
In the Midwest of the United States, tornado alarms are tested on the 1st Wednesday of every month during tornado season. They are extremely loud blasts of sound that make your heart race and your adrenaline levels rise even when you know to expect them. In short, they are alarms that are indeed quite alarming.
Here in Switzerland, the alarms sounded vaguely like an out of tune musical instrument playing an abbreviated version of a scale. Indeed, not dissimilar from listening to a band full of 13-year olds tuning their instruments before the Spring Concert that only family and a few friends attend because they must.
All things considered, not terribly alarming. Unless you happen to be the parent of a 13-year old budding musician. Then it would just bring back a bad memory.
Note: By law, all buildings in Switzerland must be built with a bomb shelter. Since the end of the Cold War, they have been mostly turned into storage rooms. However, the law remains. For a country committed to neutrality that hasn't been involved in a war for centuries, the Swiss are more prepared for war than any other country I've ever seen.
Another example - all Swiss men between the ages of 20 and 42 (52 in the case of officers) are required to be in the Swiss Army. They keep their equipment such as guns and uniforms at their home so they can quickly be ready if ever called upon to defend their nation from an attack. I would assume they also have their Swiss Army knives, but I have no confirmation of this.