Dutch Language Blog

Was Yesterday the First Monday of the Month? Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in News

Everyone who has lived in the Netherlands has heard the loeien of the sirenes the first Monday of the month at exactly 12pm. I remember the first couple of times I heard it, I was very confused. With time, it has becoming part of the noises in the Netherlands, just like bike bells and tram bells. If you hear the bell on a different day than the first Monday of the month, you are to go inside, close doors and windows and listen to the radio or the TV for future information. Inside the meterkast of our home, I found the following stickers with the procedure.

What to do when you hear the sirens (personal photograph)

What to do when you hear the sirens (personal photograph)

2015-11-10 13.02.45

What to do when you hear the sirens (personal photograph)

Yesterday, Monday November 10th, 2015, the sirens sounded in some cities in Limburg. In the area of Sittard-Geleen, the sirens went off to advise people to stay indoors. Perhaps because the alarms usually go off for the monthly test, some people were quite baffled as to what to do. The couple hundred employees at my husband’s workplace thought it was simply a mistake and took no precautions of staying in doors or closing windows. Others, however, were quite quick and took the necessary precautions.

But why did the alarms go off?

One of the biggest employment providers of south Limburg is Chemelot. Chemelot is a very big industrial area situated in Geleen, Limburg where many products, mostly derived from plastic, are made. Their website states that Chemlot provides many services for other companies, such as DSM. They also work together with Maastricht University in many research programs as well as with the language center to provide their non-Dutch employees the opportunity to learn the language.

In recent months, Chemelot has had several accidents that are potential environmental hazards. A defect in their water drainage system has released contaminated water to the Maas River, and there have been fires in the facilities. Yesterday, a fire in the Chemelot plant caused the gemeente of Sittard and Geleen to sound of the sirens. Schools in the area kept the students inside, areas near the plant were closed off, and the train stations in Sittard and Geleen were closed.

Photographs and videos were quickly shared on social media and the reactions were not favorable. People are tired and confused as to what is going on inside Chemelot. There isn’t a lot of information available as to what has started the fires nor of the steps taken to improve the safety of the people, the communities nearby and the facilities of Chemelot.

As of today, the situation seems to be taken care of and people can resume their activities, however, many remain in doubt as to their safety.

Related Vocabulary:

de brand- the fire
het ongeval- the accident
de as- the ash
de gloed- the blaze
de chemicaliën- the chemicals
de controle- the control
gevaarlijk- dangerous
het noodgeval- the emergency
blussen- extinguish
het brandalarm- the fire alarm
de brandweerman– the fireman
de brandweervrouw– the firewoman
de veiligheid- the safety

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!