Standardized designation

"Disaster control lighthouses", abbreviated to "catastrophe lighthouses", is the name given to them in Berlin, in the district of Munich or in Cottbus, for example, and "emergency lighthouses" in Stuttgart or in the Burgenland district. The city of Wolfsburg recently announced the establishment of "civil protection lighthouses". Other municipalities are talking about emergency information points - Dortmund, for example, and numerous other cities in North Rhine-Westphalia.

In Schleswig-Holstein's most populous region, the district of Pinneberg, those responsible also saw the term "lighthouses" as useful aids to navigation and set up emergency information points instead. In doing so, they also created a promising model.

"The emergency lighthouses were originally a pilot project for Schleswig-Holstein. But we eventually agreed on the name Emergency Info Points for the whole state because the term 'lighthouse' has a completely different, traditional meaning here," explains Robert Schwerin, Head of Civil Protection at the district of Pinneberg.

Offers of help in disaster situations

Originally, he reports, the contact points were mainly conceived in the context of a possible energy shortage and the associated blackout planning. However, it quickly became clear that it was not just about power failures, but also about providing rapid assistance in other disaster situations.

"We also thought it was too short-sighted to place a fire department command vehicle on a junction as a point of contact in such cases," says Schwerin. "Instead, we worked with our local authorities at a disaster prevention summit to consider how something like this could work. Because the basic requirements in the cities and municipalities are very different." It didn't make sense to use the fire station as an emergency information point, as it would be very busy in the event of a disaster anyway. Instead, locations such as village community centers or town halls have now been selected in 26 municipalities.

Different categories

The district of Pinneberg has defined three different categories from A to C for the equipment of the info points - C for the simplest and A for the most extensive.

In category C, for example, round-the-clock staffing is one of the basic requirements in the event of a disaster. There is also a first aid kit as well as a whiteboard, Zargesbox, markers and magnets, megaphone, high-visibility vest, mobile printer, batteries, notepad, writing materials, headlamp, communication device such as radio or satellite phone.

People seeking help can obtain information at the station, make emergency calls and requests for help and communicate requests for help and offers on a "notice board".

In addition to the services offered in category C, category B has an emergency power supply for energy and heat, a facility for heating baby food and a charging facility for medical equipment such as ventilators, as well as a first aider.

The highest category A also offers a warming room. In addition, a small medical drop-in clinic will be set up, where medical care can also be provided by doctors. According to Robert Schwerin, this has been planned in advance with the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in the event of a blackout. There are also rooms and areas available here for the distribution of relief supplies, for example.

Ready in 12 hours

The plans for the district of Pinneberg, which has a population of around 330,000, currently provide for a total of 31 emergency points - 14 of which are in category C and three each in categories A and B. A further eleven have not yet been assigned. Eleven more have not yet been assigned. According to Robert Schwerin, the emergency info points should be fully operational within twelve hours at the latest.

"Every municipality knows what to do in the event of a disaster," says the department head. "Everyone involved was incredibly cooperative during the development of the concept. It was clear to everyone: it can only work together." Above all, the towns and municipalities in the district understood that planning for such emergency information points cannot only begin once a disaster has already occurred. The procedure has already been tried out in individual municipalities and, according to Robert Schwerin, it has worked.

Tips and assistance for self-protection

Nevertheless, it is clear to him, as it is to those responsible in other regions, that such emergency measures only work if the population is prepared. "Of course, self-protection is always the best protection," says Schwerin. "And taking care of yourself also relieves the burden on aid organizations in the event of a crisis.

They can then take care of those who can't help themselves." Like many other towns and municipalities in Germany, the district of Pinneberg has also set up a website at, where citizens can find important tips and assistance as well as links to checklists.

Civil protection at the INTERSCHUTZ

Civil protection is one of the focus topics at INTERSCHUTZ 2026 (June 1 to 6, 2026) in Hanover. National and international exhibitors will show which solutions and products can be used to master the challenges posed by the turnaround, including in emergency response.