Civil protection

Sheltering indoors

Sheltering means quickly relocating people to an indoor space in a threatened area to protect their lives and health. Establishing shelters is a long process that takes years, so it must be done as soon as possible. Organising shelters is necessary throughout Estonia.

The following are distinguished as shelters:

  • Public shelters– these are intended for quick, short-term shelter for people in public spaces in case of immediate danger
  • Domestic shelters – meant for the residents of a specific building and their loved ones, e.g. basements
  • Shelter rooms – rooms without windows, such as bathrooms

Adapting existing buildings into shelters is the fastest, most economically feasible, and most effective option. If this is not possible (e.g. there is no basement) or reasonable, a shelter can be built in the building.

By 2024, the Rescue Board will additionally designate public shelters for at least 100,000 people based on the existing infrastructure, the priority being the larger Estonian cities.

Another line of action is to increase the sheltering capacity of apartment buildings. The Rescue Board has developed recommendations for activities that can be used to adapt the basements of apartment buildings for shelter. The recommendations are based on the Rescue Board’s experience of collapse rescue, an analysis prepared by TalTech, and the practice of neighbouring countries.

Behaviour guidelines for sheltering can be found on the Ole Valmis website and app.

Avaliku varjumiskoha märgid.

What is the role of local governments?

The local government voluntarily or in the event of reconstruction brings its buildings into compliance with the requirements of a place of refuge. Constructs its new buildings in accordance with shelter standards. Cooperates with the state in planning and implementing public shelters.

If there is a military threat, where should one take refuge?

If a person is in a residence, they should take shelter in the basement if possible. If there is no shelter, such as a basement, you must stay away from windows and take shelter in a so-called shelter room, e.g. a bathroom. People in public places must go to the nearest public shelter.

What is the current status of shelters?

No shelters have been established in Estonia since the beginning of the 1990s. It is known that in 1993, there were 280 shelters for nearly 73,000 people in Estonia. There is reason to doubt this number. Today, many of these are out of order or have been rebuilt. However, it is possible to refurbish existing and potentially suitable shelters and make use of them.

What is the current status of public shelters?

As of 31 March 2023, the Rescue Board has marked 150 shelters for nearly 95,000 people. In 2023, the Rescue Board will continue to introduce and mark public shelters based on the existing infrastructure. In 2023, the priority is to increase the number of public shelters in Estonia’s larger settlements, where a siren network will also be established by the end of the year. We will also continue to map and mark public shelters in other regions of Estonia in cooperation with local governments and by involving the private sector more.

Where to find information about public shelters?

Existing public shelters can be found on the Land Board’s map. In the cityscape, public shelters can be recognised by the international civil defence symbol (a blue triangle on an orange background).