Photo credit: Ville de Genève

Photo credit: Ville de Genève

Part of the expat learning curve is figuring out where to turn in case of emergency. In my home country, I was accustomed to dialing one phone number to reach an array of emergency services, but in Geneva, different services have their own numbers. Here’s how to reach them:

  • Police: 117
  • Fire: 118
  • Life-threatening emergencies (to call for an ambulance): 144
  • Roadside assistance: 140
  • Poison control: 145
  • Emergencies when you’re in Europe but not in Switzerland: 112

The full list of emergency numbers for the Canton of Geneva covers general medical (e.g., hospitals and clinics), dental emergencies, veterinary emergencies, and more. That list is available online – just click here:

It’s also a good idea to keep a list of emergency-related French phrases near your home phone. You can bookmark the “emergencies” section in your French-English phrasebook, or print a list of useful phrases from the Internet (such as this one) to have on hand. If an emergency does arise, you’ll save valuable time by already having the information you may need to communicate with emergency services next to the phone.

Dealing with an emergency concerning oneself, a loved one, a neighbor, or a pet is not something most of us necessarily enjoy thinking about, but planning ahead by learning key phone numbers and French phrases could save you time – and possibly much more – in the event something serious does occur.

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at