Skip to content


Evacuation refers to a situation where authorities guide the population or a part of it away from an area under a threat and place them into a safer area, as well as to securing the living conditions and society’s most important operations. In the smallest scale, evacuation can apply to the residents of one house, for example, and in the largest scale, to moving the population of entire municipalities or even wider areas away from an area under threat and moving them into safer regions. Evacuations are planned for both normal and exceptional conditions.

Voluntary moves by people are not counted as evacuations. However, moving away from the area without guidance after a recommendation by the authorities is counted as an evacuation.

Evacuations are not a primary tool for protection, but, instead, the starting point for civil defence planning is that the population remains in their permanent living areas and civil defence shelters are mainly used to protect those in danger. An evacuation complements the protective methods used in the area and can be used as an optional method in certain situations.

Evacuation in normal conditions (accident evacuation)

An accident evacuation may have to be performed during normal conditions. In such cases, the authorities, based on a decision, prepare to evacuate a certain number of people from their permanent homes or living premises, due to a fire, another accident or some other situation requiring an evacuation. An evacuation is usually done within the municipality, utilising the municipal organisations.

Evacuation during civil defence situations 

A large-scale evacuation may have to be carried out in Helsinki, in which case the population of the entire city or people from several city districts will be evacuated. A large-scale evacuation like this may occur due to a use of military force or a threat of it in the area, and the decision concerning the evacuation in question is made by the Finnish Government. In a state of defence, the evacuation decision can also be done by the military authorities with regional responsibility.

When evacuations are executed, regional evacuation assembly areas will be established for those in need of a transport, and their location will be communicated with the help of media, if necessary.