In Germany there are people and institutions you can contact in almost any situation – whether it is because of worries and fears, or dealing with various challenges, or coping in an actual emergency.
In an emergency you can ring the toll-free number 110 or 112
Depending on the problem there are various authorities at hand to provide assistance. The police and fire department are among the most important. Whether it is for serious health problems, a fire, an attack, theft or other situation in which you need urgent help: in an emergency you can ring the toll-free number 110 or 112. Dial 110 for the police, 112 will connect you to the fire department and emergency services. And even if you get the numbers mixed up, you will immediately be put through to the right one.
In situations that are not quite so urgent it is better to contact the police station or hospital in person. For a list of police precincts consult the website Polizei.de for example. There you will find links to the police websites for the individual German states. And you can find the hospital nearest to you via the portal german-hospital-directory.com.
An ever greater number of police stations in Germany are using social media to disseminate information. In emergency situations they provide fast and reliable information – sometimes even in several languages – regarding immediate dangers and current situations. Anyone wishing to find out whether their local police station uses Facebook, Twitter and the like can do so by simply typing the word “Polizei” and the region or town into the search bar of the social media channel.
Numbers to call for worries
A free advice line is available for psychological emergencies. These first responders for emotional problems can be reached on 0800-111-0111 or 0800-111-0222.
Warning apps for smartphones
Once you’ve downloaded the corresponding apps you can have disaster warnings sent directly to your smartphone. In Germany the two applications (in German) are KATWARN and NINA. In addition to sirens, loudspeaker announcements or radio announcements KATWARN provides reports on dangerous situations and informs people how to behave. With the Federal government’s emergency information and news app, which goes by the name of NINA, users receive important warnings on a variety of emergencies such as the diffusion of dangerous substances or major fires. Weather warnings by the German weather service and flood information from the responsible state agencies are also integrated into the app.
Support from the International Office
Prior to their stay in Germany students can apply to the International Office (IC) – in German often called “Akademisches Auslandsamt” (AAA) – of the German university for which they are heading – to be fully prepared for their stay in Germany or to clear up any possible concerns they may have. Every German university has an International Office. Its employees not only help you plan your studies, but also answer questions regarding visits to authorities, financial support, accommodation and other everyday challenges. For a list of the International Offices simply click the website of the German Academic Exchange Service or Deutsches Akademisches Austauschdienst (DAAD).