Sheltering indoors

How should you act in situations that require sheltering indoors?

In general warnings and emergencies, the authorities warn the public with emergency warnings and a general warning signal. The first thing to do in a general warning is to take shelter in the nearest indoor space and follow instructions. In most cases, this is enough to protect against the danger. The indoor space can be your home, school, workplace or other building.

The public warning signal is a one-minute long rising and falling sound signal. It can be heard from the public warning systems and it warns people that are outside of an immediate threat.

The emergency warning is given through e.g. radio, television and the 112 Suomi mobile application.

Public warning systems are tested usually on the first non-holiday Monday of each month at noon.

Listen to the general warning signal

Download the 112 Suomi app for your phone. All public warnings and notifications are transmitted to the application. Remember to allow the app to use your location to receive notifications.

The mother and child enter through the front door.

When you hear the public warning signal:

  • Move indoors. Stay inside.
  • Close doors, windows and vents, seal gaps. Shut down mechanical ventilation.
  • Turn on the radio and wait calmly for instructions.
  • Avoid using the phone to prevent the lines from getting congested.
  • Do not leave the area without instructions from authorities, to avoid danger during travel.
  • Take iodine tablets only if prompted by authorities.
  • If you are at home in a radiation situation, you can store drinks and food in airtight containers.

Examples of situations that require sheltering indoors:

  • a fire in the surrounding area causes high levels of toxic smoke
  • an accident involving dangerous substances in the area causes risk of gas leakage
  • risk of radiation, such as a nuclear power plant accident

 Sheltering indoors is important

  • Smoke fumes from a fire is always harmful to humans, and breathing the fumes may be dangerous or life-threatening. Smoke is easy to detect.
  • If you can detect the danger yourself, act immediately: shelter indoors and turn off the ventilation.
  • Shelter indoors at the latest when the authorities announce to do so with a general warning signal or emergency warning.
  • Not all toxic gases or radiation can be detected by the senses. Some dangerous substances are odorless and colorless.

 Do you know how to shut down ventilation and seal off gaps?

  • Everyone in the family or at a workplace should know how to shut down mechanical ventilation.  However, not all buildings have mechanical ventilation and in some buildings, only the property maintenance company can shut down ventilation.
  • When sheltering indoors is necessary, the space should be made as sealed off as possible.
  • Shut all doors, windows and airways and seal all gaps with plastic wrap or duct tape, for example. This reduces the amount of smoke, gas or radioactive particles that can penetrate inside.

The man stops the ventilation.

Do you know where the ventilation switch is?

  • Because dangerous smoke and gases spread fairly quickly outdoors, the building’s residents or staff should know how to shut down ventilation without assistance. This requires that the location of the ventilation switch is known and accessible to everyone.
  • For example, installing an emergency ventilation shutdown button near the entrance is often a good solution that allows anyone to turn off ventilation in a dangerous situation.

Iodine pills

  • The accumulation of radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland can be reduced with iodine pills.
  • Iodine tablets are recommended to be bought and kept at home for children and adults up to 40-years-old.
  • Only take a pill when prompted by the authorities to make sure that the timing is right.
  • For 3–40-year-olds iodine pills can be bought at pharmacies. The public health care will procure iodine tablets suitable for children under 3 years of age and distribute them to parents.
  • Follow the dosage instructions on the package.

Read instructions about iodine tablets on the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority´s website.

Civil defence shelters

  • In exceptional circumstances, civil defence shelters may need to be used. The authorities may decide on the use of civil defence shelters.
  • The international sign for civil defence is a blue triangle on an orange background. The sign will guide to a civil defence shelter.
  • Most civil defence shelters are located in residential and public buildings. They are traditionally built in the basement.