Welcome to our special newsletter marking World Civil Protection Day. This is celebrated on 1st March
every year and serves two purposes.
The first of these is to bring
to the attention of the world public the vital importance of Civil Protection and of raising awareness of the preparedness for, and prevention and self-protection measures in the event of accidents or disasters.
The second is to
pay tribute to the efforts, sacrifices and accomplishments of all the national services responsible for the fight against disasters.
This year it is being held in Portugal with the theme
"The importance of the local level in promoting Resilient Communities" under the national direction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Civil Protection is everyone's responsibility from unblocking gutters to the cleaning of land, not only to keep ourselves safe but also our neighbours as well. It requires a collective effort under the framework of the National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC). In Portugal we can experience, high winds and waves, heavy rain at times and even snow - and of course long periods of high temperatures. We are in an active area of earthquakes, with a long coastline. This means from time to time our exposure to the risk these natural phenomena bring increases. It is important to counter these risks where possible through understanding what they are and take preventative steps where required.
Safe Communities Portugal's role includes helping to create public awareness in areas such as forest fire prevention and other issues involving public safety. Setting fire to forests, whether deliberately or through negligence, can result in a major disaster with possible loss of life, injury and destruction of infrastructure, land and property. Much of this is preventable.
We support the work of the authorities such as the ANPC (National Civil Protection Agency), Bombeiros, GNR and other agencies, by helping to disseminate information to the foreign community, through this website, our newsletter and various seminars and displays.
I am grateful to the Commander ANPC Faro District for kindly providing this the following introduction to this newsletter.
Introduction by Vitor Norberto de Morais Vaz Pinto -
Commander of the ANPC Algarve District
"On March 1st, the National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC) marks the International Civil Protection Day, established worldwide, by the International Civil Protection Organization (ICPO) and at a national level by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In 2016, this day evokes the theme:" The importance of the local level promoting Resilient Communities.
Due to the increased frequency and intensity of natural and technological events, in recent years, safety issues have taken a leading role in our society, and each civil protection entity at national, regional, district and municipal level are concerned about the welfare of their fellow citizens, in order to prevent collective risks and the occurrence of serious accidents or resulting disasters.
It is a fact, that the local level, represented by the local authorities, political and technical, through their proximity and bond within the communities, constitutes the basis of the civil protection structure. The legal mandate that established a common operational picture at the municipal level, with a clear and inclusive framework, in which the different civil protection agents are coordinated to accomplish relief operations, guarantees an appropriate response according to the existing risks in their territorial coverage.
To meet these needs, each municipality in the Algarve, with no exception, is provided with a Civil Protection Service (SMPC), directed by the Mayor, and has a fully operational Municipal Emergency Plan, drawing up an appropriate organizational response to serious accidents or disasters, fulfilling the subsidiarity principle. When all local means are engaged, the regional level will provide reinforcements or specialized means.
Today we can ensure that the Algarve is a safe tourist destination, as a result of a timely emergency and operational planning, a permanent and constant institutional coordination, both vertical and horizontal, which enables an efficient and competent integrated response, relying on each force or service with rescue, assistance or logistic support responsibilities, carried out under a unified command system;
So today, as we commemorate throughout the world, civil protection, as an activity carried-out by the State, Autonomous Regions and Local Authorities, by citizens and by all public and private entities, with the aim of preventing collective risks inherent to serious accidents or disasters, to attenuate its effects and to protect and help people and assets in danger, whenever those situations occur.
I wish to express my tribute to all those, women and men, who day after day, 24 on 24 hours, 365 days a year, are committed and dedicated to this noble cause for the benefit of all those who live or visit the Algarve.
Also, I wish to express my appreciation to the Safe Communities Algarve Association that, as an active and dynamic partner, has greatly contributed to increase the proximity with the foreign communities by eliminating barr
iers in the public safety awareness, a true partnership that has promoted safer communities."
Vitor Norberto de Morais Vaz Pinto
Comandante Operacional de Argupamento
Distrital do Algarve
Autoridade Nacional de Proteção Civil
What is Civil Protection?
Civil Protection is the activity carried out by the State, Autonomous Regions and Local Authorities, by citizens and by all public and private entities, with the aim of preventing collective risks that causes serious accidents or disasters, to reduce its effects and to protect and help people and property in danger, whenever those situations occur.
In addition its objectives are to: rescue and to assist people in danger; protect cultural and environmental properties and other items of high public interest and to support the re-establishment of normality in the life of people living in the areas affected by serious accidents or disasters. Its responsibilities are:
- Survey, forecast, evaluation and prevention of collective risks;
- Permanent analysis of vulnerabilities facing risk situations;
- Information and training of the population in order to raise awareness for self-protection measures and for the necessity of collaborating with the authorities;
- Emergency planning, search and rescue, providing aid and assistance, as well as evacuation, lodging and population supplies;
- Inventory of resources, availability of means and the most suitable way to mobilise them, at the local, regional and national levels;
- Study and dissemination of adequate forms of protection of buildings in general, monuments and other cultural assets, infrastructures, archives, essential services facilities, as well as environmental and natural resources;
- Forecast and planning of actions concerning the eventual isolation of areas affected by risks.
Marking Civil Protection Day
The National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC) will hold a ceremony to commemorate Civil Protection Day, on 1st March which is established worldwide by the International Organization of Civil Protection (ICPO) and nationally by the Minister of Internal Affairs.
The ceremony this year will be dedicated to the theme "the importance of the local level in promoting Resilient Communities", and will take place in the ANPC headquarters in Carnaxide, at 10.30 hrs officiated by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Constança Urbano de Sousa, also with the presence of the Secretary of State for Internal Affairs, Jorge Gomes, and numerous dignitaries from various public and private entities with an emphasis on the civil protection system.
The ceremony will honour those who have demonstrated high civic sense and genuine delivery to the common good, eventually losing his life in the course of protection and rescue operations. The National Institute of Medical Emergencies (INEM) and the Portuguese Institute Ocean and Atmosphere (IPMA), will also be decorated with the medal of protection merit and rescue, grade gold, distinct orange, the role they play in the national civil protection system.
Across the country, the District Command Relief Operations ( CDOS) of the ANPC and the other agents that are part of the national civil protection system will commemorate the date with various activities such as, exhibitions and displays reflecting the theme " the importance of the local level in promoting resilient communities".
These will highlight the key role of local authorities and outreach work among different actors and stakeholders in the work for the enhancement and development of the regions, with a view to safety and security of citizens.
Activities are normally spread over a period of one week with a series of events open to the general public.
Estoi- Civil Protection Day - Event for the Family
The Territorial Command Faro National Republican Guard (GNR), in partnership with the Civil Protection Authority Faro, are marking the "International Day of Civil Protection" with an event on 1st March in Estoi, Faro, in the space usually used by the Feira do Cavalo (Horse Fair).
The event is open to the entire community, and will include activities such as horseback riding for children, slides and dog demonstrations, which take place from 10.00 hrs and in the afternoon from 14.00 hrs.
In parallel to these activities, the event includes: environmental protection, special programs, patrol cycle and intervention displays, as well as the Intervention Group, Protection and Relief (GIPS) and Unit Coastal Control (UCC) of the GNR.
In addition to the GNR the exhibition will also include part of Faro Bombeiros.
This event is for the whole population including families and stidents.
The holding of this event is possible with the support of the União de Freguesias de Conceição e Estoi, do Agrupamento de Escolas Pinheiro e Rosa e ainda da Confraria Equestre de Estoi.
Vila Real de Santo António - Civil Protection Day - Seismic/Tsunami Plan
To mark the date, the Marques de Pombal Square in VRSA, will be the venue between 10h00 and 16h00, on 1st March of an exhibition and display of equipment of the various civil protection agents (Fire, PSP, GNR, INEM, ICNF, Maritime Authority and Civil Protection ), with demonstrations and distribution of leaflets.
The celebrations will end with a presentation of the "Seismic Risk Plan simulator and the Algarve Tsunami", conducted by the National Civil Protection Authority - District Centre of Faro Relief Operations, between 15.00 and 17.00 at the Centro Cultural António Aleixo .
The activities are organized by the Civil Protection of the Municipality of VRSA and have the support and collaboration of the Volunteer Fire, PSP, GNR, INEM, ICNF, Maritime Authority and Civil Protection.
Portuguese Red Cross - Food Donation to Needy Campaign
From 4th to 6th March the Portuguese Red Cross will conduct a new national Food Collection and Distribution Campaign in order to donate products to the neediest families. For three days, several hundred volunteers from the Portuguese Red Cross, the Continent and My Super supermarket employees will be in all Continente and My Super stores throughout the country to assist in the collection of food.
Everyone can contribute by donating essential goods such as rice, pasta, various canned goods, milk, sugar, salt, biscuits, milk powder, milk porridge baby, instant coffee, tea, energy bars, among others.
The products and food offered by customers will then be distributed to the neediest people, identified by the delegations of the Portuguese Red Cross, according to the most urgent needs of each region.
The Food Collection held in October 2015 was undertaken by more than 6,000 volunteers in more than 300 stores nationwide and islands which resulted in the delivery of the equivalent of 200,000 meals to about 10,000 families.
Please support this initiative when visiting one of these stores during this period.
IPMA - Portugal Weather Alert System
The IPMA "I
nstituto Portuguese do Mar e da Atmosfera" have recently introduced on their website a new and easy to read weather alert system, that shows by District, weather alerts in colour codes ranging from green low to red high.
The alerts cover, thunderstorms; wind; hot weather, maritime, snow, fog, precipitation and cold weather. Each alert is shown in the form of a symbol and the times and duration this will occour.
This is very easy to read and useful and it is recommended that it is referred to frequently.
The chart for Faro can be accessed
: For other areas simply click the tab on the right of the screen.
Meteoalarm - The European Weather Alert System
For those travelling as well as living here, another very useful newly introduced weather alert system is "Meteoalarm".
Torrential rain, floods, spring tides, storm surges and coastal erosion, gales, severe thunderstorms, heatwaves, forest and heath fires, fog, extreme cold and blizzards, freezing rain and severe frost, avalanches . . . . . Are you planning to travel, for a business trip or holiday? Perhaps camping, climbing or enjoying the beach? Would you like up-to-date information on potentially hazardous weather today and tomorrow? The
identifies the risks, covering 650 regions in the whole of Europe at a glance.
The website is plain and clear, using easily recognizable symbols. It is simple to click onto regional and local warnings, and the websites of the various European national weather services. Tourists, travellers, truck drivers, businessmen, the emergency services, aid and relief organizations the media - everyone can be warned without any language barriers.
The website has no language barriers because standardized symbols are used. It makes no difference whether you come from the north or south of Europe . . . Everyone, millions of travellers, can understand Europe's "dangerous weather" charts. Special links lead you to extra information in any language you desire. For colour-blind users the coloured weather chart can be converted to black and white tints. The warnings are also available via RSS feeds, an alternative method to access Meteoalarm on other internet sites.
Meteoalarm is a system integrating the official weather warnings of each participating country's national weather service (in the case of Portugal the IPMA www.ipma.pt), in cooperation with hydrologists. It is based on the most up-to-date information from the worldwide meteorological network being input to weather prediction computer models which in turn provide guidance on the expected weather.
Precautions during heavy rainfall and high winds
From time to time the ANPC based on information mainly provided by the IPMA issue weather alerts where there maybe a danger to life and property. Included in these are heavy rainfall and wind alerts.
These alerts include the precautions that should be taken by the public to reduce the dangers posed for instance through flooding, fallen trees etc.
The precautionary advice is published in Portuguese by the ANPC, but can be downloaded in English from our Safe Communities Portugal website
Precautions during heat waves
The need to take precautions from heat waves illustrates the extreme weather conditions that we can experience in Portugal; snow. high winds, and havy rainfall to long periods of sunshine when temperature can exceed 40C.
In the case of heat waves such as that seen in 2015, it is important that precautions are taken especially in respect of the elderly and those who are more vulnerable. As early as May last year in Beja temperature of
40C was recorded breaking the previous record for that month of
39.5C four years ago.
Care has to be taken in such heat to avoid dehydration or even worse. The Director General of Health has issued guidelines to help avoid health issues during high temperatures and these can be downloaded from the Safe Communities Portugal website in English
Five rescued after ignoring advice concerning bad weather
Five people on 27th February were trapped in the zone da Torre in the Serra da Estrela, due to the heavy snowfall, and had to spend the night in the Casa do Guardo, used as a refuge.
The group, four men and a woman, aged 30 and 45 years, who were from Lagos area, were advised in the morning, not to carry out the mountain trail walk they had planned, due to adverse conditions, said the source of the GNR mountain Group.
However no one heeded the advice, claiming to be "very experienced mountaineers." In the middle of Saturday afternoon, they were rescued from an elevated area of the zone in what was described as a large scale and difficult operation, and transferred to a lower part of the mountain. One of the climbers recorded, mild injuries.
On Friday until Saturday, snowfall resulted in the rescue of 26 people who had been trapped and needed help, Civil Protection Authority has revealed. There were 340 incidents related to the bad weather. Most related to highways where roads were blocked by the accumulation of snow.
On Saturday the snow fell from Tras-os-Montes to the Algarve. And in most areas, it was a moment of celebration, enjoyed by families. Especially for children, who spent the day playing with snowballs!
Creating awareness of forest fire risks for visitors
It is unfortunately a fact that many visitors from cooler climates visit Portugal using motor caravans and/or for camping, are unaware of the fire risks.
Although there are designated camp sites, lighting a BBQ in a forest area when the critical fire period is in place or at other times when the fire risk is very high or extreme, is illegal as it poses a serious risk to the forests and public safety.
In liaison with the ANPC - National Civil Protection Authority - Safe Communities Portugal and the ANPC have produced a leaflet in English specifically aimed at creating awareness among tourists.
This is can be downloaded on-line at present and it is planned that printed leaflets will be designed and produced this year.
Bombeiros Opens a Classified On-line Store
On 15th February the portal Bombeiros.pt opened a classified on-line store that has the intention to help fire fighters sell the materials that they no longer use.
This platform is to allow a practical and centrally organized platform to help the civil protection agents buy and sell new and old items in an "open virtual store front 24 hours a day".
The portal bombeiros.pt know that there are many fire departments as well as their colleagues, who no longer use certain equipment and even vehicles. This platform helps sell these products and helps search at a more competitive price.
For those who want to sell their products, simply fill out a form available online with the features, price, pictures and your contacts. For those who wish to purchase, simply contact the owner and mention that you are interested in the product.
The bombeiros.pt portal will "charge" a very symbolic amount for all the ads that are published; however in the first month will be completely free.
Feeling cold? Then look back 60 years.
Sixty years ago continental Portugal was affected by an episode of intense cold, which was unprecedented and lasted for a long period.
On 11 and 12 February 1956, there were extremely low minimum temperatures due to the influence of a very cold air mass with a continental path in the circulation of a large anticyclone located south of Iceland.
In those two days almost all the territory recorded minimum temperatures below 0 °C (with the exception of Cape Carvoeiro and Sagres).
Minimum temperatures fell below - 10 °C in the Northern and Central regions: -14.0 °C in Lagoa Comprida; -13.3 °C in Penhas Douradas; -12.3 °C in the Guarda; -10.8 °C in Montalegre; -10.0 °C in Miranda do Douro, Tondela and Arouca / Serra da Freita.
Penhas da Saúde in the Serra da Estrela, a temperature of -16.0 °C was recorded, the minimum temperature ever recorded in Portugal.
Throughout the the month of February 1956 both minimum and maximum air temperatures were very low. The periods where temperature were below 0 °C (ice days) ranged from 14 - 20 days.
Even the south of the country was effected with a minimum temperature at VR Santo António of - 5.0 °C.
Critical Wildfire Period
Turning from cold to hot; this is the period each year announced by Minister of Agriculture and Sea, where special measures are put in place to prevent forest fires due to exceptional meteorological conditions.
During this period
and outside the critical period when there is a very high or maximum risk of forest fire you are not allowed in rural areas to:
- Smoke, make fires or bonfires,
- Burn agricultural or forest debris
- Carrying out grassland or renewal burning or
- Operate tractors, machines or heavy transport vehicles that do not have fire extinguishers, spark and ember retention systems or flame dampers in the exhaust pipes or chimneys.
In 2015 the critical period was designated 1st July to 30th September. The designated periods for 2016 that will be published by the ANPC during the next few months, can be found on the
Burning fires outside the Critical Wildfire Period
If you wish to burn debris or pasture renewal burning outside the critical period or when the wildfire hazard is not very high or maximum, you should telephone 117 or your local Bombeiros. You need to check whether this permissable given the weather conditions in your area. For large areas burning is only permitted after obtaining a permit/permission from the city council or parish in your area. Anyone contravening this is liable for a fine up to € 60,000.
You should also:
- Avoid periods of strong winds that increase the intensity of the flames, which may ignite surrounding areas,
- Avoid the hottest days when debris and pasture are drier,
- Avoid fires in the proximity of trees, piles of firewood, gas containers or other highly inflammable material and overhead electric lines,
- Avoid burning large piles of debris and instead burn several small piles.
To check the daily fire hazard you can contact 117, the Bomberios, Forestry office, or easier still the Portuguese Weather Institute (Instituto Metereolgia) by internet. Click here to view the map.
Protecting your house against wildfires
The National Forest Authority gives 10 basic steps for the protection of properties in isolated rural areas as follows:
- Knowing the problem - Managing fuel, in other words, clearing the land in the surrounding area is the best way to protect your house.
- Define the Protection area. A minimum range of 50 meters (in some cases up to 100 meters for larger buildings) reduces the chances of a fire reaching your property.
- Reducing the most flammable vegetation. Give priority to a 10 meter watering area around the property and avoid the planting of inflammable vegetation.
- Thinning and pruning. It is important this is done regularly giving priority to weak or ill trees.
- Keep the surrounding area cleaned. Do not keep firewood, forest or agricultural debris, or any type of inflammable material within a 50 meter distance to the property, except when kept in separate buildings.
- Non-flammable pavement area. Keep an area of between 1 or 2 meters of pavement around the building.
- Unobstructed access. Make a protection area of 10 meters on the vehicular access side of the property so that large emergency vehicles can manoeuvre,
- Clean the roof and other structures of the house. Remove dried grass, dead leaves, pine needles, tree branches and moss from the roofing gutters, eaves and in wooden decking.
- Safety in your house. Place a net for the retention of sparks in the chimney and close any gaps where sparks may enter the interior of your home.
- Be prepared in case of fire. Store shovels, rakes and hoses in an easily accessible location.
Clearly the management of the 50 -100 meter protection range could be a joint responsibility between you and your neighbours. It is important therefore to discuss this with them and work out a division of responsibility.
It is also important to note that the management of these areas is enforceable by law and there are heavy fines for non-compliance.
Contacting the Emergency Services
When an emergency happens it is important to summon help quickly. Emergencies can range from dealing with a serious accident; a heart attack; a fire or being a victim of crime. Portugal is very well equipped to deal with a whole range of emergencies and in many cases has some of best trained and equipped response services in Europe.
Since 1981 Portugal has had an Integrated Medical Emergency System (SIEM), which is a set of entities that cooperate with one goal: providing assistance to victims of an accident or sudden illness. These entities are the PSP, GNR, INEM, the fBombeiros, the Portuguese Red Cross, Hospitals and Health Centres. INEM is the agency of the Ministry of Health responsible for coordinating the operation in mainland Portugal.
The system starts when someone calls 112 - The European Emergency Number. The service call connects to the national emergency centre operated by the PSP. Where the reason for the call has to do with health, it is transferred to the Center's Guidance Emergency Patients (CODU) unit under INEM. Whenever CODU initiates an emergency response it is handled by the unit closest to the place of occurrence, regardless of the entity to which it belongs. More information can be found at the
When dealing with an emergency it is important to remain calm and follow the emergency centre operator's advice. It is also essential that these numbers are only used in a genuine emergency, as non-emergency calls can result in delayed response to those requiring urgent assistance. English is understood but it is essential to speak clearly giving your name, location and nature of the emergency.
In case of fire or any other emergency you should dial 112. For forest fires you can also dial 117. These are for emergency use only and should not be used for non-emergencies. Simply state the nature of the emergency, your name and exactly where you are. The operators standard of English is good.
If you need to contact the Bomberios in the Algarve the contact details for each municipality can can be found by clicking here. Do not phone them to report emergencies as all calls should be made to the emergency numbers.
In addition to ensuring quick access to emergency contact details, Safe Communities Portugal has researched and provided on this page a comprehensive list of the various help lines and hotlines in the country. These range from who to contact in the case of domestic violence, poisoning cases and child neglect. Please note English may not be spoken in all of these services. These can be found here.
Monitoring fires through the internet
The ANPC (Civil Protection Agency) is the authority responsible for the coordination for dealing with major emergencies including forest fire outbreaks and the resources involved in firefighting. In so far as the Algarve is concerned the ANPC has a coordination center based in Faro and is manned by staff from other authorities such as the GNR.
All major fires are plotted and information updated regularly. If you wish to check if a major forest fire has broken out or the progress in fighting fires then you can do so through this
The Bombeiros in the Algarve is divided into 15 districts districts with its headquarters in Faro. Clicking on the link here and then on the crest for your area, gives you all the contact details and other information of your nearest fire station.
In case of major incidents our News/Events page will provide daily information including public appeals such as calls for donations which have been made by the Bombeiros, Civil Protection Agency and other authorities.
The details and contacts of the Civil Protection departments in each of the municipalities in the Algarve can be downloaded here.
Instituto Nacional de Emergência Médica)
Since 1981 Portugal has had an Integrated Medical Emergency System (SIEM). SIEM it is a set of entities that cooperate with one goal: providing assistance to victims of accident or sudden illness. These entities are the PSP, GNR, INEM, the Bombeiros, the Portuguese Red Cross, Hospitals and Health Centres. INEM is the agency of the Ministry of Health responsible for coordinating the operation in mainland Portugal.
The system starts when someone calls 112 - The European Emergency Number. The service call connects to the national emergency centre operated by the PSP. Where the reason for the call has to do with health, it is transferred to the Center's Guidance Emergency Patients (CODU) unit under INEM. Whenever CODU initiates an emergency response it is handled by the unit closest to the place of occurrence, regardless of the entity to which it belongs. More information can be found at the INEM website.
When calling you should state simply and clearly:
The type of situation (illness, accident, childbirth, etc.);
The phone number you are calling from;
The exact location and, whenever possible, reference points;
The apparent seriousness of the situation;
The number, sex and the apparent age of people in need of help;
The main complaints and the changes in the person observed;
The existence of any situation which requires other services to attend the location, e.g., car accident, fire hazard, etc.
Calls are answered by qualified staff. Always follow the instructions given by emergency medical services. Finish the call only when the operator has informed you to do so.
Property Insurance - Fires
It goes without saying that if you live in a rural area property insurance including the risk of fires is very important. It is also important that you check your clauses carefully as some elements of protection of property is mandatory.
For instance one clause sometimes used is very general, but if you are not compliant with the law concerning the protection of your home, this could invalidate the insurance in the event of a claim:
"Law applicable to the Contract
You and We are free to choose the law applicable to this contract but in the absence of agreement to the contrary, the law of the country in which You reside at the date of the contract (or in the case of a business, the law of the country in which the registered office or principal place of business) will apply".
Advice is to check with your insurance company or broker concerning any clauses you should be aware of in the event of a fire claim. It is better to check now rather than find out after the event.
How you can help - Donations
Safe Communities Algarve is a non-profit association run by unpaid volunteers. There are no salaried staff. Our services are free of charge to the public and the association is funded by donations. We help many people each year in dealing with the police as well providing a service which is unique in Portugal.
Your generosity by making a donation to help maintain and further develop the work of the association and thereby help keep the Algarve a safe place to live and visit would be appreciated. Any amount helps.
If you would like to make a donation through Paypal please visit our Welcome page and click on the "donate" button. If you wish to donate by cheque or by interbank transfer please contact SCA for our bank details using the contact page. All donations should be marked "Donation for crime prevention". Thank you.
We try and issue a newsletter every two weeks, either a "Special" as in this case or one that contains a variety of crime and crime prevention matters, news and events etc. If you wish to refer to an earlier newsletter going back to mid 2012 or find one you have not received one recently, please go to our Newsletter page which has the complete list.
How your friends can obtain up to date Crime Prevention advice
Please pass on details of Safe Communities Algarve to neighbours and friends so they to can benefit from the up to date crime prevention advice. Simply ask them to click on the following link to obtain the latest newsletter: www.safecommunitiesalgarve.com This is a free service.
Safe Communities Algarve
1 March 2016
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