What’s the best place to hide?


Housing is absolutely essential to human flourishing. Without stable [war] shelter, it all falls apart.”
– Matthew Desmond

One day, when I was little, I was walking from school with my grandfather, who showed and told me that: “Here’s a Soviet shelter; people were hiding from the Germans there, and they were still sitting there when there was an accident at the Chernobyl plant, because they didn’t have time to evacuate.” I always wondered what it looked like inside, because you couldn’t see it from outside, a clearing like a clearing, almost no hint of an underground shelter. And I always asked him, “Why haven’t they destroyed it yet, why do we need it, nobody’s hiding or hiding there anymore?” And my grandfather answered that it should always be there, because in case of an emergency, it’s the place to escape death.

Could I then, at the age of seven-something, have imagined that in my 20s I would be wondering where I had a chance not to die from a russian missile?

Unfortunately, each of us, in the 21st century, has had to think about where to seek a hiding place and whether or not there is a chance to save ourselves in it. During an air raid, everyone hides where it is comfortable, where it is safe. But does each of us know which shelters are safe? I will try to tell you briefly what I learned during these days of war.

On February 24, 2022, under the terrible explosions (unfortunately, I had to hear them very strongly and very close.), my family and I were running away from death, fleeing not knowing if I would survive, not understanding what to do, not realizing that this could happen (by the way, I still have not realized it, have not accepted, and can never accept and do not want to accept.). We went to the countryside – at the time it was the only more or less adequate solution. In our village we have a cellar. It is common, like in most country houses: a small entrance, down the old stairs, down potatoes, which need to be planted in the spring, some grandmother’s flowers, a couple of bags of beets and carrots; no light, water, and heating. An ordinary cellar for ordinary vegetables, but definitely not for people during the war. Although, personally, I felt like nothing more than a vegetable, especially on the third day after the start of the “special operation.”

However, even though our village was quiet, we still went down into the cellar during the air raids. Being there, a conclusion flashed in my mind: this kind of cellar is not the place where you can sit quietly. At the time, though, my only concern was that a missile wouldn’t fly into my hut. Many people have such cellars equipped with everything they need, so in that case, it is a favorable variant for hiding. We had only food, water we brought, an axe, a shovel and lots of blankets out of the necessities were at hand. So sitting in a hiding place like this for more than two hours is difficult, but when you want to live, it’s possible. It is important to remember that the door to such a cellar must necessarily be secured, so that if a rocket hits nearby, the door will not be closed by the blast wave and it will be possible to get out. Also, the cellar is closed with a heavy metal lid, which we also secured.

After a little over a week, we made the decision to go to a safer place. But first we had to stop by the house. Here I will tell you about the shelters in my house. I live in an 18-story house, on the 15th floor. Sure, you can sit in the bathroom or on the common floor area during an air raid, but I was still scared to stay that high up. But luckily, our house has a basement. I don’t think this basement was built for the purpose of hiding, but we chose it, why not? I think the shelter in our house belongs to the best ones. It looks like a dream of a well-off hermit. After all, there’s plenty of room and heat, light and water, ventilation and communication, and most importantly, there’s a second exit (backup). Consequently, in my opinion, this type of hiding is comfortable, and most importantly – safe.

When we got to a quieter place, the first thing I started to do was to look for hiding. I didn’t go to eat or drink, I didn’t go to the shower, I went to find a hiding place. Pretty sad realities of nowadays.

Kind people showed me this place, and I thought it wasn’t reliable. It was not a basement, but a basement, which was definitely not supposed to be a shelter. There’s not a lot of space, and the stores are located nearby. The pluses are that there is food, water, and ventilation. However, there is no heating, not much space, and no emergency exit. In case of a missile hit, the room of this building will be blocked, and we won’t be able to get out. In other words, we go to our own death. After a week of walking there day and night, sitting there for five hours almost every night, I realized I wouldn’t go anymore. So I started looking for an alternative.

At first, I thought about sitting in the bathroom, but I read that the bathtub is a dangerous place (and most people sit in it, but much depends on the location of the bathroom and its filling.). So this variant fell away at once. And then, I realized that the most reliable place where I live now is, shall we say, the vestibule. In some old houses, there was a scheme that from the staircase there was a door to the apartment, but, at first, you enter into a small “room” in which the doors lead to the apartments. And after reading a lot of articles, I realized that this is a reliable place. After all, it is not even behind two walls (which is important), but behind three. And, if I have to run, the door to the steps will not be closed. So, for the past three weeks, when I heard the siren, I always went there with my dogs (I do not leave mine.). Pluses are numerous: it is not far (less than in a minute you will be there), more or less warm, you can always go into the apartment to take water, food or warm things, get the Internet, you can talk to the neighbors (by the way, they do not go out to see us, because they have a large corridor, no windows and mirrors, which is also a reliable place.).

So, to summarize all of the above, we can make the following list of reliable hiding places:

    • The basement of your house. Be sure to take the necessary things with you: your emergency backpack and a rucksack for animals (if there are animals), with water, food, warm clothes, first aid kit…and animals;
    • Specially equipped hiding place/bomb shelter. These may be modern hiding places made just for wars or even Soviet basements, bomb shelters in the ground, etc.;
    • The entrance hall, the corridor in the apartment, the stairwell, the common corridor in the house – in general, everything without windows and where you are covered by at least 2 walls. The rule of two walls is the most important; also be sure to take all necessary things;
    • A cellar in your village (this is one of the most reliable places, however, it needs to be carefully prepared with all necessary things taken in advance.);
    • Bathroom or toilet (here it all depends on how far from the windows these rooms are located (two-wall rule), whether these rooms have a mirror or a boiler. If so, it is not a reliable place; but, in general, if your town is more or less calm, you can sit out the alarm in the bathroom, remembering about taking all the necessary things.

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