Friday, 22 January 2016

National Security Resources Board, Survival Under Atomic Attack (Department of Civil Defence, Boston, 1951)

Disaster preparedness has been around pretty well since God said to Noah
The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
It seemed to me that it might be interesting to look over what past generations have thought about responding to calamities (actual or potential) and see whether they recommended anything of value for us today.

Image from here
The first text I'm using for this is Survival Under Atomic Attack, prepared by America's National Security Resources Board in the early 1950s.  For myself, I don't view nuclear devastation as a particularly serious risk these days, notwithstanding North Korean sabre rattling.  However, we can derive some useful advice from this book.  When it comes to dealing with situations where a major explosion may occur (for example, certain types of truck accident), it advises that -
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.
More than half of all woundsare the result of being bodily tossed about or being struck by falling and flying objects.  If you lie down flat, you are least likely to e thrown about.  If you have time to pick a good spot, there is less chance of your being struck by flying glass and other things.
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 [or don't have one at all!], lie down along an inside wall, or duck under a bed or table.  But don't pick a spot right opposite the windows or you are almost sure to be pelted with shattered glass.
If caught out-of-doors, either drop down alongside the base of a good substantial building  - avoid flimsy, wooden ones likely to be blown over on top of you - or else jump in any handy ditch or gutter.
The book also has some useful points to make where fire and explosion control is concerned.  It recommends 'fire-proof' housekeeping and not letting garbage or detritus build up around your home.  If a major shockwave is expected (whether from an explosion, seismic activity or any other cause), it would be priudent for you to know how to turn off the gas and electrical supply to your house.

What real or imagined disasters from the past do you feel may have something useful to tell us today?

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