The Household Shelter (HS) in a dwelling unit is typically the store cum pantry with its walls, floor and ceiling strengthened with increased thickness. The walls are set back by specified distances from the building exterior and the entrance to the HS is installed with an SCDF-approved light protective steel door. The HS gives protection to the shelterees against weapon effects such as blast and fragments during an emergency. Each HS door has a notice affixed on its interior face. The notice identifies the structure as a household shelter and states clearly the prohibited works within it. The HS of HDB flats are typically the store cum pantry. The walls, floor and ceiling of the HS are strengthened with increased thickness and in general, require minimal maintenance. It is no different from maintaining an ordinary storeroom, with the provision that the owner is not allowed to tamper with the HS door, structural walls and the floor and ceiling slabs. Under the CD Shelter Act 1997, new dwelling units (both houses and flats) are required to have household / storey shelters incorporated in the developments.
With effect from 1 May 1998, applications for planning permissions for new flats or houses submitted to or lodged with Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) are required to incorporate household or storey shelters.
If an application for outline permission, or an application for written permission (if no outline permission is made) for a residential development is made before 1 May 1998 and the permission was still valid as at 1 May 1998, the CD Shelter Act would not apply to that development. In addition, any subsequent submission for this same development will be deemed as re-submission and not new submission for the purpose of the CD Shelter Act as long as any permission granted by URA arising from this said application has not lapsed or become invalid.
Typically, architects design storerooms and pantries with the required protection specified by SCDF so that they can also serve as shelters for occupants of the dwelling units.
Prohitbited works within the HS
Generally, owners must ensure that there is no hacking or indiscriminate drilling of the floor, ceiling and walls of the HS as this may weaken the structure. In peacetime, only fixtures that can be easily dismantled and removed are allowed in the HS. As a guide, all temporary fixtures/shelves and objects which the owner has placed or affixed in the HS shall be removable within 48 hours upon notice being issued by the SCDF.
For purpose of quality control in the manufacturing of the HS doors, SCDF and BCA are working closely with Spring Singapore (previously known as PSB ) in implementing the Product Listing Scheme (PLS) for HS doors. Note that only approved HS doors (for which BCA-issued HS door reference numbers would be given) are eligible for the PLS which is administered by Spring Singapore.
Advantages of Household Shelters
The household / storey shelter has the advantage of being easily accessible to residents of the house or flat and apartment occupants when the need arises. Life during an emergency can thus be close to normalcy. In the case of a residential block of flats, it It is also economical because the void deck space otherwise occupied by a public shelter can be freed for other recreational and social uses, and maintenance cost is minimal.
For residents living in dwelling units without shelters, SCDF will advise them how they can improvise some cover in their homes using available household and furniture items. Such an improvised cover would provide a considerable degree of protection against flying debris and glass splinters which generally are the cause of the majority of casualties in bomb explosion incidents. In fact, it will be relatively safer to stay at home under some improvised cover during an attack than being out in the open trying to get to a public shelter.
Procedures for Shelter Occupation
When the need arises (eg. before the onset of a war emergency), the SCDF would increase the public education programmes to prepare the population on precautionary and protective measures. Residents will be advised to prepare the HS for occupation and adopt the appropriate procedures for shelter occupation. Upon the sounding of the "Alarm" signal from the Public Warning System (PWS)., the occupants are to move into the HS. During their stay in the HS, they are advised to tune in their TV or radio for important messages issued by the authorities. Once the "All Clear" signal is sounded, the occupants can leave the HS and resume their daily routine.