The Ministry of the Interior is introducing Estonia's first coordinated set of behavioural instructions for the population how to act in times of crisis. They range from general advice to detailed and situation-based instructions how to plan ahead for potential disruptions of vital services. The complete overview is available on kriis.ee.
Deputy secretary-general at the ministry, Viola Murd, told ERR on Tuesday that the deeper the crisis, the more time the state will need to react. The instructions thus have the aim to enable Estonian residents to live on their own for up to a week, for example in a situation where there is no electricity, district heating or a working mobile service.
"Studies have shown that people believe that they will handle themselves very well in times of crisis," Ms Murd said. "That's already very good. People need to believe in themselves. But on the other hand, very few have actually prepared in any way so that they would be able to manage on their own."
Basic supplies in every household, including radio to receive emergency broadcasts
The first step, according to the ministry's instructions, is to think about home supplies and tools. An adult needs some 3 l of clean water per day, and available food should be sufficiently varied while at the same time keep for a long time.
A first aid kit and some essential drugs are a must-have. Simple tools along with a torch and batteries are also recommended, as well as a battery-powered transistor radio to be able to receive emergency broadcasts through ERR's radio stations.
A detailed list is available on kriis.ee.
Including heating, potential relocation in contingency planning
More specific crisis scenarios described on the new website include an interruption of the still very common district heating system. The system dates back to the occupation era, when like in most Soviet cities and settlements areas were heated centrally, either by a designated plant or as a side service of a power plant or factory.
A first step is to think about alternative options to heat your house. In a large number of older houses, there are wood-fired stoves left that can be put to use again.
In other cases, eg in areas like Tallinn's Lasnamäe district, where most people live in blocks of flats dating back to the Soviet era, the situation is more complicated.
"Of course we wouldn't want people eg in Lasnamäe to fashion their own heating systems [in their apartments], which means they'll have to think about where to go," Ms Murd added. "It's important to talk to family members as well and to arrange to stay with them if needed."
In turn, the ministry is asking people to keep all those in mind who will depend on others in a crisis, eg by finding out in a block of flats if there are elderly people or people with special needs that might need help.
Sample crisis situations, required behaviour in case of war
The ministry's website lists 10 crisis situations along with information how to act, from extreme weather conditions, floods, fires, chemical accidents, radiation accidents, explosions, collapses, sudden attacks in public places and getting into trouble abroad to potential international armed conflicts—or, in plain English, war.
In the latter case, instructions include a detailed overview of how civilians should best behave during an armed conflict, from the identification of signs of danger to how to behave if enemy forces are in the area.
Each of the scenarios comes with downloadable instructions and also with example situations.
According to Ms Murd, the state is also having 10,000 copies of its new collection of behavioural instructions printed, coming in at 70 pages a piece. The aim is to distribute them to libraries and schools around the country.
"From here on in, there is still work to be done to make these instructions more commonly known and more available," Ms Murd said. "And of course we'd like to have people's feedback as well, and to hear what good ideas they've come up with themselves."
Read up on behavioural instructions and contingency plans on kriis.ee.
Editor: Dario Cavegn