Europe

Sweden sends out leaflets on how to prepare for war

Child looks at candle in a dark room (file photo) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The leaflet suggests having candles and tea lights at the ready in case the electricity supply fails

Salmon balls, tea lights and wet wipes. These are just some of the things Sweden has advised every household to stock up on in the case of war.

Its government has sent leaflets to 4.7 million households explaining how to best prepare for various major crises.

These include terror and cyber-attacks, natural disasters, serious accidents and military conflicts.

Those who prepare improve "the ability of the country as a whole to cope with a major strain", the booklet reads.

"Think about how you and people around you will be able to cope with a situation in which society's normal services are not working as they usually do," it adds.

The leaflet, which is entitled If Crisis or War Comes, has been distributed amid concerns over Russia's military activities and the rise of terrorism and fake news.

Under a section called "home preparedness tips", there is an eclectic list of some of the key items it says every household should have access to.

It stresses the importance of having non-perishable food "that requires little water or can be eaten without preparation", such as:

  • Bread with a long shelf-life (eg tortillas and crackers)
  • Precooked lentils, beans, tinned hummus
  • Sardines and ravioli
  • Quick-cook pasta, rice, instant mashed potatoes
  • Prepared blueberry, rosehip soup, energy bars
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The leaflet advises households to stock up on foods with a long shelf life, such as rice and jam

The leaflet also warns that, in a major crisis, the electricity supply may fail meaning your home will quickly become cold.

"Gather together in one room, hang blankets over the windows, cover the floor with rugs and build a den under a table to keep warm," it advises.

If there is no electricity, it says people should prepare to keep warm and stay informed when communications systems are no longer working. Households can do so by having:

  • Woollen clothes
  • Sleeping bags
  • Candles and tea lights
  • A radio powered by batteries, solar cells or winding
  • A list of important telephone numbers
  • A mobile phone charger that works in the car

Similar instructions were distributed during World War Two, but printing ceased in the 1980s, according to local media.

The leaflet also includes advice on how to spot propaganda, find a bomb shelter and get clean water.

Image copyright Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency
Image caption Pages from the leaflet explaining Sweden's air raid warning system and public shelters

How have other countries prepared?

Numerous governments have issued advice on how to best prepare for a major crisis or even war in recent years.

In 2016, Germany advised people to stockpile food and water for use in a national emergency. It suggested storing enough food to last for 10 days as well as five days' worth of water.

It was the first time since the Cold War the German government had issued this kind of advice, and some opposition MPs accused it of scaremongering.

Also in 2016, Lithuania told its citizens what to do in the event of a Russian invasion. Its booklet included guides to spotting Russian tanks as well as surviving in the wild.

Moscow's relations with its Baltic neighbours have deteriorated since 2014, when it annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

In recent years, Sweden has increased its military spending, citing the deteriorating security situation in Europe, particularly in light of Russia's role in the conflict in Ukraine.

In 2016, it restored a troop presence on the strategic Baltic island of Gotland amid concerns over military drills by Moscow, and has debated whether to move closer to the Nato military alliance.

It also reintroduced military conscription last year.

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