Approximately 580 civil defence public shelters in Singapore #TIL
#TIL there are about 580 civil defence public shelters in Singapore!
In the early 1940s, the British colonial government began constructing public air raid shelters, the first of which was built in 1939 at Fort Canning Hill – intended to protect British colonial officials and their families.
Indeed, during the war, Singapore became a key target for Japanese air raids. Sirens would go off and residents would make their way to the shelters. These shelters, such as the Tiong Bahru air raid shelter at Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street, were spacious, yet dark and poorly ventilated. In an ironic twist of events, later in 1945, the residents would use these same shelters as refuge against air raids launched by the Allied Forces.
Over time, civil defence public shelters were built with better ventilation and lighting, so much so that many of these spaces could be optimised as tuition centres, student care centres, and convenience shops during peacetime.
Some schools, MRT stations, and community centres are also designed to be used as shelters when needed. For instance, for underground MRT stations, blast doors will seal the underground level off from the concourse level, protecting those within from any explosions outside. These underground MRT stations also come with its own generator, water tank, and air filtration system, ensuring that electricy, potable water, and clean air will always be available.
In 1997, it was made compulsory to have every single HDB flat come with a built-in household shelter. Stacked on top of one another in an apartment block, these personal household shelters are reinforced with thick layers of concrete and strong enough to survive bombs, which led many to concoct amusing images of a single column of shelters left standing after the HDB collapses in an air raid!
However, the household shelter’s main purpose is to shield occupants from blast fragments during a bombing – this is because flying glass splinters and debris generally form the majority of the casualties during explosions. In any case, it is unlikely that the entire block of flats will collapse in a bombing, leaving only a column of shelters standing.
Regardless, it is important for Singaporeans to have emergency preparedness so that lives can be saved in the event of emergency. And if you’re caught outside when emergencies happen, fret not, you may access any of the 580 public shelters in Singapore – just search for the nearest one on Singapore Civil Defence Force’s website!
#publicshelters #totaldefence #civildefence #emergencypreparedness #Singapore