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A civil defence shelter is a space or building that protects people from explosions and splinter effects, building collapses, shock waves and hazardous substances and radiation. Civil defence shelters are marked with an international symbol, which is a blue triangle on an orange background. 

There are approximately 5,500 civil defence shelters in Helsinki with approximately 900,000 places. The number of shelters and places in the city is sufficient to cover the need for shelter not only of permanent residents, but also of people visiting the city and people on the move. 

If the civil defence shelter is used for other purposes under normal conditions, it must be possible to restore it for civil defence use within 72 hours. It must be possible to deploy civil defence equipment within the same period of time. 

In emergency conditions, the need to move to a civil defence shelter is indicated by a general alarm signal and an emergency warning, which is broadcast on radio channels, shown on television channels and published in the 112 mobile application.

Property-specific civil defence shelters

Property-specific civil defence shelters built for those living, working or staying in the building are the foundation of Helsinki’s civil defence. Their use is based on the duty to build civil defence shelters defined in the Rescue Act. 

You can find out the location of the property-specific shelter from the property owner, property manager or rescue plan. The shelter is often located in the basement of the building and used during normal times as a storage space, for example. 

The condition and readiness for use of the civil defence shelter in the building are the responsibility of the owner or holder of the building. The owner of the shelter ensures that the shelter and its equipment remain in good condition and it has the tools and equipment necessary for maintenance and sheltering situations. The civil defence shelter must be inspected annually. A sufficient number of trained personnel must also be reserved for civil defence duties in the shelters.

Bedrock shelters

The bedrock shelters in Helsinki are public civil defence shelters, shared civil defence shelters or a combination thereof. The public civil defence shelters are bedrock shelters built by the city, and they are intended for people living, working or staying in Helsinki and people on the move. Shared civil defence shelters are bedrock shelters built for several properties and intended for use by people working or living in these properties. 

Under normal conditions, bedrock shelters are in use, for example, as sports and recreation premises and as parking facilities. Metro stations from Sörnäinen to Ruoholahti are also equipped with civil defence equipment, meaning that they can be used as public civil defence shelters if necessary. 

The Rescue Department cooperates with several third sector actors, and hundreds of trained volunteers work in civil defence duties. 

Public civil defence shelters can be found listed with their address information on the City of Helsinki service map.