The State of the Shelter

This morning Israel held an emergency drill. Air-raid sirens (up-and-down) were sounded for two minutes. Schoolchildren and workers were expected to go to their safe areas, while those at home were to go into shelters or safe rooms. People traveling or outside were supposed to ignore it.

I was home and decided to go to the shelter. My teenager, who was also home, didn’t. The head of the residents’ committee had told my husband that there was some kind of machsom (barrier) in the shelter. It seems our shelter is filled with several years’ worth of  junk and a corresponding amount of dirt.

Those of us in the Tel Aviv area are supposed to be able to get to our shelter within two minutes. It took me about two minutes to get down six flights of stairs.

The shelter was locked.

Knowing I wouldn’t get anywhere with the neighbors, I called the municipality’s hotline (106, in every city). They confirmed my address and offered to send someone.  I expect they will put up a letter threatening to fine the building if the shelter doesn’t get prepared. They didn’t even ask my name and pulled my address from the computer based on the number I called from.

I don’t think getting to the shelter in two minutes with no advance notice—especially with children—is very realistic. But I sure want to have the option.

You can see pictures of Mimi’s shelter here.

The site of the Home Front Command has information in English about preparing for emergencies:

It is clear, therefore, that the time to learn, train and prepare is during a period of peace and calm. The assumption that people in a crisis can follow directions they have not prepared for is very much mistaken. This is why it is necessary to set an organized and consistent process of prior planning and preparation into place.

The site also covers the various threats, essential supplies, preparing for evacuation, and explaining your emergency plan to your children.


  1. Sad. Keep us updated if they actually do something about it. I’d be curious to see any progress in the country’s preparedness from the higher-ups.

  2. Thanks for the link.

    What was the situation in your kids’ schools? My kids’ respective experiences included entering the security room located on the same floor as the classroom, going to the shelter located in another building, and staying in the classroom but moving close to the walls that don’t have windows…

  3. mominisrael says

    My daughter has a protected area in gan. Two kids went to shelters, one was on the bus on a class trip, and one was home. Both staff members from gan were out today, but it seemed to go okay.

  4. mominisrael says

    Elie, I will be sure to let you know what happens.

  5. Both staff members from gan were out today,
    Ah, yes, the teacher’s/gannenet’s “yom chofshi”. Have you ever blogged about this topic?

  6. Thanks for posting about your emergency drill experience, MiI. Many people know their shelters are full of junk or always locked and so don’t even consider them an option for emergencies. It’s really time to take action; call 106 as you did, and force the issue with building residents.

    As we mentioned in a phone conversation, it may take longer than 2 minutes to get the family down into the shelter, but it’s better than staying vulnerable in the apartment. In the worst case, (a missile strike while fleeing down the stairs), folks can duck under the stairs. That’s also mentioned on the Home Front site as a “safe” resource.

    Sigh…may we look back on all this with rueful smiles some day…

  7. Regular Anonymous says

    Thanks for reminding me to be grateful that I live in a newer building and have my conveniently located mamad/walk in closet a mere 3 second stroll from my computer. However, even if I was paranoid enough to empty it out (a distinct possibilty) due to an impending emergency, it would not be a fun place for the 4 of us to spent any extended length of time.


  1. […] friends in Israel are posting about the drill today: Mother in Israel, Baila, Dina, Mimi and Mrs. S. Cosmic X remembers ducking under his desk in […]