Staying safe in a crisis – what to do in case of emergency

Do you know how to prepare for a power failure? And what should you do if you hear the general alarm signal outside? Read here what to do in an emergency and how Heka and the City of Helsinki are prepared for various situations.

Written by Anne Ventelä Photos by Essi Kuula

The war in Europe has gotten many thinking what they should do in case of a crisis or emergency. You should not constantly worry about disasters, but it is good to prepare for them. What would you do if the electricity supply was disrupted, or if you heard the alarm signal while outside? Or when should you go to a civil defence shelter, and what should you take with you there? Read our instructions for preparation here.

Emergency supplies help you prepare for a power failure

Power failures are rare in Finland these days, and even when they do happen, they usually pass before you can even notice. However, a powerful storm may cause a prolonged power failure, which would be difficult in our modern society that relies on electricity. If electricity is cut out, our homes will become colder, tap water will stop running, ATMs stop giving out cash, and shops may not be able to sell food.

This is why everyone should prepare for power failures with three days’ worth of supplies that include food and drink for all family members and pets. You will also need containers with lids or clean canisters to carry water.

Home emergency supplies should also include a battery-powered radio and a charged power bank to charge your phone. Through the radio, you can receive current information even during power failure. You should also keep some cash in your wallet since card payments may not be an option during power failure.

Read more about home emergency supplies here.

Some supplies needed for 72 hour stay at home: water, medicin, radio, money.
Everyone should prepare for power failures with three days’ worth of supplies

Rescue plans include instructions for emergencies from water damage to storms

Heka is also prepared for various emergencies, just in case. All Heka buildings have a statutory rescue plan with information about what to do in an emergency and how events such as fires, water damage, radiation or gas exposure, and storm damage are prevented.

The rescue plans include the actions, safety arrangements and important phone numbers related to the building and the emergency in question.

You can find your building’s rescue plan on your location’s web page.

Alarm signal used for major emergencies

What about a major regional emergency? Dangers such as gas or radiation hazards are indicated with the general alarm signal sounded on sirens located outdoors. The general alarm signal is a regularly rising and falling sound. When the danger has passed, a continuous audio signal will be sounded for one minute.

An emergency warning related to the signal is broadcast on all radio channels and shown in television programmes as running text on top of the screen. The warning will also be posted on the teletext page 112 of the TV channels of YLE, MTV3 and Nelonen. You can also receive local emergency warnings on your phone if you have installed the 112 Suomi mobile application and granted location permissions to it. You can also see the emergency warnings on the websites, and

If the emergency warning is issued during peacetime, move indoors. Close all doors, windows, air vents and ventilation systems. Turn on the radio and wait for instructions. Do not use the phone so that the lines are not blocked. Stay indoors until instructed otherwise.

If the alarm signal sounds during a war, people should go to a civil defence shelter.

Please note that the general alarm signal is tested on the first Monday of each month (excluding public holidays) at noon. The test signal is a continuous sound that lasts for 7 seconds. If you hear the test signal, you do not need to do anything.

A person is using a mobile phone.
You can also receive local emergency warnings on your phone if you have installed the 112 Suomi mobile application.

Civil defence shelters offer protection during a war

The shelters are designed to protect the population during a military threat. If necessary, the authorities will issue an order to prepare the civil defence shelters and for people to seek shelter.

The order to move to a civil defence shelter is accompanied with the alarm signal and emergency warning.

Most Heka buildings have their own civil defence shelter. In total, Heka has civil defence shelters at 400 locations. You can find information about the shelters in your building’s rescue plan. The civil defence shelters are always marked with an international symbol of a blue triangle on an orange background. The owner of the civil defence shelter is in charge of maintaining the space and the supplies there.

The civil defence shelters in Helsinki are listed on the Rescue Department’s website and on the service map.

If you were told to move to a shelter, you would need your identity document, personal medications, iodine tablets, hygiene supplies, bedclothes, a flashlight and batteries. Everyone should also have 2–3 days’ worth of food and drink for themselves. You should also take your phone’s charger, earplugs and some means to pass the time with you.

The experts consulted for this article were Vesa Jurmu, Heka’s property director, and Petri Parviainen, senior civil defence planner of the City of Helsinki Rescue Department.