Thursday, November 10, 2005

Duck and Cover

from Kolchak:

The infamous phrase "duck and cover" doesn't appear in "
Survival Under Atomic Attack." Basically, though, that's the advice the booklet offered Cold War America.

I found a copy of "Survival Under Atomic Attack" a few months ago at a nearby antique store. It doesn't have a publication date in it, but it does have an old-fashioned Civil Defense emblem on the cover, and it refers to another government publication which, it says, was published in 1950. Some of the facts mentioned may be correct, or were considered correct at the time, but they still seem unlikely to me. With that disclaimer, I think I'm going to let this one speak for itself, as much as I can.

"Even if you have only a second's warning, there is one important thing you can do to lessen your chances of injury by blast:

"Fall flat on your face..."

"If you are inside a building, the best place to flatten out is close against the cellar wall. If you haven't time to get down there, lie down along an inside wall, or duck under a bed or table."

"When you fall flat to protect yourself from a bombing, don't look up to see what is coming. Even during the daylight hours, the flash from a bursting A-bomb can cause several moments of blindness, if you're facing that way. To prevent it, bury your face in your arms and hold it there for 10 or12 seconds after the explosion. That will also help to keep flying glass and other things out of your eyes."

"Should you be caught upstairs or in the open at the time of a bombing, you might soak up a serious dose of explosive radioactivity. Even so, the first indication that you had been pierced by the rays probably wouldn't show up for a couple of hours. Then you most likely would get sick at your stomach. However, you might be sick at your stomach for other reasons, too, so vomiting won't always mean you have radiation sickness...For a few days you might continue to feel below par and about two weeks later most of your hair might fall out. By the time you lost your hair you would be good and sick. But, in spite of it all, you would still stand a better than even chance of making a complete recovery, including having your hair grow in again."

"It was said earlier that 15 percent of Japanese A-bomb deaths or injures were caused by radioactivity. But not one of them was caused by the lingering kind. Explosive radioactivity killed them all."

"Naturally, the radioactivity that passes through the walls of your house won't be stopped by tin or glass. It can go right through canned and bottled foods. However, this will not make them dangerous, and it will not cause them to spoil. Go ahead and use them provided the containers are not broken open."

"While we cannot hear, feel, smell or taste radioactivity, its presence can be easily detected with Geiger counters. However, you won't have to use one of these. Instead, you can rely on your local radiologoical defense teams--a small specially-trained corps of 'meter readers'--to warn you of the presence of lingering radioactivity."

"Be careful not to track radioactive materials into the house."

"Neither explosive nor lingering radioactivity has any effect on the operation of most mechancial or electrical devices. Unless the wires are down, or there is a power failure, both your lights and telephone should continue to work...The bomb's radioactivity will not interfere with the operation of your radio."

"Should you help to clean up a contaminated area, you might get some radioactive materials on your body and clothing. So don't go home and sit around in your work clothes."

And the ever-popular:

"Don't start rumors. In the confusion that follows a bombing, a single rumor might touch off a panic that could cost you your life."

For a (very) in-depth look at Cold War propaganda,
check out:

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