There’s a bomb shelter in your own HDB flat.
And if you’re wondering where it is, it’s probably your storeroom.
Or your helper’s room. Or your guest room.
How do you recognize it?
The HDB bomb shelter has a distinct feature: its walls, floor and ceiling are reinforced with extra thickness for protection purposes during wartime emergencies.
This means that the room looking like it has packed on a few pounds is the one you’re looking for.
It’s been around for 20 years
20 years ago, the bomb shelter was made compulsory in all HDB flats, following the Civil Defence Shelter Act.
In hindsight, it’s a really positive venture.
For one, we have somewhere to duck should enemies start dropping stink bombs on us.
For two, we have an exclusive ‘Storeroom’, ‘Helper’s room’ or ‘Guest’s room’. Whatever you call it.
But there were actually household shelters long ago; way back when our grandparents still had their hair and teeth
During the Japanese Occupation (1942 to 1945), Syonan Shimbun reported that “every member of the household had to have an individual trench to seek shelter in during air raids.”
(Kinda looks like a physics question. Just need some measurements.)
The trench could be used with or without a cover; the cover was to stop splinters and flying gravel from falling in.
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Thank goodness we have proper bomb shelters now. Nothing personal against the trench, but it looks way too much like an O Level physics question for me to ever like it.
Actual purpose of the shelter
According to the Renovation and Decoration Advisory Centre (RADAC), the shelter’s primary purpose is to “shield occupants from blast fragments during a bombing.”
To that, let me ask you a question: what do you think is the most lethal aspect of a bomb explosion?
The explosion itself? Or the toxic chemicals it releases upon activation?
Surprisingly, it’s not. Instead, it’s more often than not the flying debris and glass splinters that get you killed.
Well, this changes things.
But of course; should the bomb hit right in your area, not even Superman will be able to save your ass from turning charcoal black.
This brings me back to my first point: Singapore has reached such a zen-like state in terms of safety that residents have relaxed. Really relaxed. It’s to the point where they have forgotten what the bomb shelter’s original purpose was for.
Instead, they had a great idea, “Oh, nobody’s gonna use this space anyway, so why not throw all the unsightly stuff we don’t want anyone to see here?”
But it’s really kind of understandable. I mean; it’s Singapore. Singaporeans will never let such a big chunk of space escape empty-handed. The fact that it’s a bomb shelter? Never mind la!
Yet you gotta admit; it’s still a much more viable option, as compared to say, it’s original purpose.
Let’s just hope that the day will never come when we have to crowd inside the ‘storeroom’ together.
Firstly, it would mean that war has dawned upon us. And war is kind of a downer, as compared to your bowl of Cherry Sugar Chups cereal.
Oxygen intake problems aside, you can’t help but think: what if someone had eaten a huge can of baked beans ten minutes ago?
My colleague who just got his house recently told me that they allegedly have power points and a TV connection in the shelter.
I say allegedly because he can be quite an airhead at times and, yeah, listen halfway can liao. #SorryNotSorry
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