Incidents and crises

What to bring to a civil defence shelter?

  • food for yourself for 2–3 days
  • water and other drinks
  • personal medication and hygiene supplies
  • bedclothes (e.g. a sleeping bag and a camping mattress)
  • flashlight and batteries
  • iodine tablets
  • you may also bring pastimes (books, games, paper, pens)
  • ear plugs

What not to bring?

  • pets
  • alcohol
  • narcotics
  • weapons
  • heat-producing equipment (gas kettle, storm lantern, etc.)
  • products with a strong odour
  • smoking is not allowed inside the shelter

The Emergency Services have received a lot of enquiries on civil defence and civil defence shelters after the recent deterioration of the European security situation.   

Finland is not currently under a threat that would necessitate the issuance of orders on the deployment of civil defence shelters. We compiled an information package that provides answers to frequently asked questions about civil defence shelters.

Frequently asked questions about civil defence shelters

Civil defence shelter deployment 

The deployment is announced by an official order, after which shelters must be deployed within 72 hours. The deployment is carried out by the civil defence shelter manager. 

Civil defence shelter manager 

A trained manager must be designated to each civil defence shelter. Their responsibilities include the maintenance and deployment of the shelter. The civil defence shelter manager may be, for example, a member of the property maintenance personnel, but it is recommendable to designate a person living or staying in the property. In a sheltering event, the civil defence shelter manager operates inside the shelter. 

When should shelter be sought in a civil defence shelter? 

A civil defence shelter may only be used under authorities’ orders, after deploying the shelter. Prior to deployment, the civil defence shelter will only provide as much protection as its structure allows. For example, the shelter is not automatically ventilated and sealed. 

How do I find my civil defence shelter? 

Civil defence shelters are usually connected to larger housing cooperatives or workplaces and are available to the residents or employees of these properties. Public facilities, such as schools and day care centres, also have civil defence shelters intended for sheltering the users of the property. In general, civil defence shelters are located on the basement floor, on the ground level or in separate buildings, such as outdoor storages. Shelters are marked with the international symbol of civil defence, a blue triangle on an orange background. Smaller housing cooperatives and single-family houses are usually not equipped with a civil defence shelter. 

About civil defence shelters 

There are no public civil defence shelters in Southwest Finland. Due to the limited number of facilities, the authorities’ additional powers in emergency conditions enable, for example, taking over a building and assigning its civil defence shelter to nearby people whose residences do not have a shelter. It is also possible that facilities other than actual civil defence shelters would be designated as temporary shelters to provide protection from the effects of conventional weapons. The baseline is that people are assigned a civil defence shelter within a few hundred metres. Another option is to evacuate residents lacking a civil defence shelter from the danger zone in a situation where the use of shelters is required. The authorities provide information on the evacuation of areas. 

Civil defence shelter information not available 

It is possible that a housing cooperative or a property does not have a civil defence shelter or a designated shelter in another property. In case of uncertainty, information about the civil defence shelter is most likely available in the property emergency plan or it can be requested from the property manager.

Sheltering indoors 

Sheltering indoors is a course of action in dangerous situations, and as such, it is not related to emergency situations or the threat of war. Sheltering indoors may be required in the event of a chemical accident or a nearby fire, for example. In that case, all doors, windows, ventilation apertures and other openings should be closed and sealed with plastic film or duct tape, for example. If the property is equipped with mechanical ventilation, the system’s yellow emergency stop button is usually located on the lobby wall. If sheltering indoors is required, a general alarm signal and/or an emergency announcement is given via television or the 112 application, for example.

Is the civil defence shelter in good condition? Airtightness and annual tests

The civil defence shelter owner must ensure that the shelter’s machinery and equipment are kept in working order and that the equipment is maintained regularly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. In addition, the operating condition is inspected thoroughly in connection with tightness tests performed in intervals of 10 years. If the dates of the previous maintenance and inspection measures are not known, the measures must be taken to ensure that the machinery and equipment are in working order. Maintenance and inspections can be carried out by a competent property manager or shelter manager. In addition, companies carrying out maintenance and inspections can be found on the internet with the search term “civil defence shelter tightness test”, for example. Any defects and shortcomings detected in maintenance and inspections must be rectified. 

What to bring to a civil defence shelter? What not to bring? 

YES: Food, drinks, personal medicines and hygiene supplies for your own use for 2–3 days, bedclothes (e.g. a sleeping bag and a camping mattress), flashlight, batteries and iodine tablets. You can also bring pastimes (books, games, paper, pens) and ear plugs, if necessary. 

NO: Pets, alcohol, narcotics, weapons, heat-producing equipment (gas kettle, storm lantern, etc.), products with a strong odour. Smoking is not allowed inside the shelter.

Home emergency supplies 

Regardless of matters related to civil defence shelters, one of the most important preparedness actions of citizens is to maintain sufficient emergency supplies at home. Home emergency supplies provide security in the event of minor incidents, such as a power outage or illness. It is advisable to reserve sufficient food, drinks, containers for storing water, medicines, cash and other daily necessities for three days at home. You should be prepared for long power outages, water supply disruptions and payment transaction disruptions, for example. The home emergency supplies are also used in the event of sheltering in a civil defence shelter, as residents should bring their own food and supplies. Käyttöönotosta ilmoitetaan viranomaismääräyksenä, jonka jälkeen väestönsuojan käyttökuntoon laittamiselle on 72 tuntia aikaa. Käyttöönoton tekee väestönsuojan hoitaja. 


Useful links:

In matters related to civil defence, please contact the Southwest Finland Emergency Services at