Events in shelters are the new normal for Ukraine, which is courageously defending itself against the invasion of the Russian invaders. The fact that we continue visiting concerts, studying, and meeting to develop business, science, and society demonstrates our endurance and motivation. But the meeting planners of such events should ensure the visitors’ safety. The requests “location for the event in a bomb shelter” and “shelter for 500 people” are circulating in professional groups and chats. After all, the risks are known and real and remain high. First, this article is dedicated to the meeting planners and event organizers and contains clear instructions for choosing and preparing locations in shelters.

Арена Сі Ес, агенція, укриття, локація під землею

During the air syrens training is transferred to the shelter

Where to start?

The requirements for bomb shelters are specified in several official documents. They are very detailed; these documents determine the entrance signs’ size and the pipes’ colors inside. According to the rules, several variants of protective structures are distinguished. However, to avoid confusion, we will use the terms “location” and “shelter” throughout this article.

So, the task of the event organizer is to create safe conditions. First of all, the location must protect against aerial threats. So, it must be an underground structure.

Here are the main requirements:

  • transport accessibility (but the location should be located as far as possible from military and strategic facilities);
  • the possibility of private use. That is, public and even private storage facilities in crowded places are not ideal: they cannot be restricted from entering the population during air raids;
  • the availability of a spare exit in case the main one is blocked;
  • sufficient bandwidth of entrances (depends on the number of people at the event);
  • availability of toilets in the shelter;
  • lack of sewage mains or hot water supply pipes directly on the premises;
  • a functioning supply ventilation network;
  • conditions for continuous stay of people inside for at least two days (mandatory safety standard).

Now we will consider the requirements for the shelter for the event in more detail.

ARENA CS конференц зал

One of the few equipped locations in the shelter is UNIT.City

What should the shelter contain to be suitable for the event planning?

The minimum equipment of an underground location for any event should be as follows:

  • places to sit. Chairs, benches, and poufs are suitable – choose according to the format of the event;
  • bottles with drinking water of at least 2 liters per person (per day);
  • a container with technical water or the availability of a connection to a centralized water supply;
  • food in specialized containers;
  • sewage and bathrooms or alternative options in their absence;
  • backup lighting elements (anything is suitable: from flashlights on batteries to candles);
  • means for extinguishing fires (about them below);
  • telephones, walkie-talkies, radios, or other means of notification and communication;
  • medical assistance kit;
  • tools for emergency and rescue work (shovels and bayonets, axes, crowbars, saws for metal and wood).

Fire safety in the shelter

The building must comply with the Fire Safety Rules of Ukraine and current building regulations and fire protection standards. The accurate event planner must provide the location with primary means of fire extinguishing, equipped with a system of internal fire-fighting water supply, fire alarm, and automation. The area of fire extinguishing equipment and the evacuation plan must be marked and constantly illuminated.

Choose sitting places (chairs, etc.) made of non-combustible materials. It is also better not to use synthetic materials for decorating the event because they will release poisonous substances in case of ignition. And, of course, it is forbidden to use radioactive, chemical, and flammable substances. Therefore, you should not plan a pyrotechnic or fire show at the event (a sad wartime joke).

Концерт в метро

Event mantling at Kyiv underground metro station

Underground event location: the requirements for entrances

Free access and, sufficient capacity, the possibility of trouble-free entry and exit for persons with disabilities are the main requirements for these zones on the location. It is worth ensuring that the approaches to the door and the door are in good condition and clean and that nothing obstructs access. Ramps are mandatory according to state requirements. But if the event is small, and there are guaranteed to be no people with reduced mobility among the guests, you can disregard this requirement.

Shelter lighting

According to the requirements, the lighting must be artificial. Making temporary networks or using loose electrical equipment and lamps is forbidden. By the way, lights must be protected from mechanical influences. And no incandescent lamps and fluorescent devices – only LED or other energy-saving lamps. In addition, it is necessary to check whether the sockets at the location are supplemented with “220 V” signs – this is obligatory due to official requirements.

Temperature and humidity

The requirements specify that the temperature should not be lower than +10 °C. The rate is too low even for a dance party, let alone an event where guests are mostly seated. Therefore, it is worth taking care of more comfortable conditions, and if this is not possible, provide blankets, hot drinks, and other safe means of heating.

The humidity level should not be higher than 70%. It is necessary to regularly ventilate the premises through the entrances/exits for the temperature and humidity to remain within the requirements.

паркінг укриття івент локація

Underground parkings in the city center can be considered as locations or shelters.

Checklist for checking location readiness

So, the premises have been found. How to finally understand that the shelter is suitable for the event and is safe? It is necessary to make sure that:

  1. The general condition of the premises (entrances, ventilation, waterproofing, protective elements) is satisfactory.
  2. The electricity supply, water supply, communication, sewerage, door systems, and door insulation mechanisms (locking) are working correctly.
  3. The temperature and humidity meet the norms and are comfortable.
  4. The fire extinguishing equipment is in a complete set and in good condition.
  5. The structure is airtight, and ventilation and air filtration are provided consistently (it would be ideal if you test these systems for at least six hours personally).

If there is at least one defect, the location is considered unsuitable for holding the event under the state requirements (because it will be impossible to guarantee the safety of those present). Therefore, the specified five points are mandatory. In this case, it will significantly reduce the risks, and the regulatory bodies will not have unpleasant questions for the organizers.

Do such locations exist?

In general, you can find similar premises in any large city in Ukraine. The problem may be that, given their essential technical suitability, they are unlikely to satisfy customers and guests who are used to halls in 5* hotels or concert halls. You will have to bring them to order at your own expense, which is not very relevant during the war. Therefore, the organizers should change the audience’s expectations from the “walls” to the quality of the content. After the era of online events during the pandemic, we are used to it.

Unicef Youth Awards on the metro station

ARENA CS event manager Daria Muzychenko during UNICEF Youth Awards 2022 on metro station

What locations are most suitable for events during the war?

As for Kyiv, Dnipro, and Kharkiv, metro stations are ideal locations. They are 100% compliant and suitable for safe local or mass events, which has been repeatedly confirmed in practice by organizers of socially significant, charitable events.

In other cities, shelters in large industrial enterprises can serve as locations for mass events. This is not advisable because large strategic objects can be the next targets of a clumsy enemy. Therefore, You should carefully consider the necessity of carrying out such events.

You can plan small and short-term events that do not require lengthy and expensive preparation and a lot of equipment on the underground floors of shopping centers, hotels, and office premises. The main thing is that both the guests and the organizers are ready to interrupt the event if employees or guests of this institution need shelter during an air alarm.

In conclusion, I must note that even before the war, most of the event planners in Ukraine were “hungry” for beautiful, equipped, modern locations: in particular, concert halls and exhibition centers. And when it comes to bomb shelters and bunkers, the choice has narrowed down to the bottom. However, cultural and business life must continue despite the war: after all, we are fighting for the right to live NORMALLY. Events are an essential feature of ordinary life and a healthy society. But during the war, in the absence of ideal locations, we must carefully choose reasons, priorities, and, in fact, the places themselves.