Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi A-Bomb Survival

By Sue Schuurman

OCTOBER 12, 1998: 

Whether intended to reduce the loss of life or just to make residents feel empowered rather than defenseless, the Albuquerque Journal ran a five-part series called "The ABC's of surviving an A-Bomb Attack." It's hard to imagine moms taping the following eerie list to their refrigerators, but then again, the 1950s didn't have the "security" we have: decades of successful deterrence thanks to mutually assured destruction.

"Before Bomb Falls: A. Keep at a minimum exposed inflammable material around premises. ... B. Keep trash cans covered. C. Rake up and destroy dry leaves and trash around buildings, clear attics and basements of combustible materials. D. Have flashlights handy. E. At first alarm, shut off oil burners, gas pilot lights, furnaces, water heaters. F. At alert make dwelling as near airtight as possible. Close doors, shut windows and draw blinds as a protection against fire sparks, glass splinters and nuclear radioactivity. G. Put family auto in closed garage or at least close all car windows. ... Don't stay in auto; its gasoline may ignite.

"When Bomb Bursts: A. Fall flat on stomach. Cover face with arms; close eyes tightly. To view dazzling blast may cause temporary blindness. Five miles away the light glares as brightly as 100 suns. If outdoors, seek a ditch, gutter or side of strong wall or tree. If indoors, seek a basement and be next to wall away from windows and middle of room where falling beams may land. ... The explosion sends out a destructive shock wave--a shell of air compressed so tightly it glows white-hot. Behind this comes an 800-mile-an-hour wind. ... B. Shield body from possible flash burns or radioactive wastes. Cover body with few sheets of newspaper, a board, raincoat or a torn strip of awning. C. Wait for 'all-clear' signal before leaving shelter. Allow lingering radioactivity time to subside. Travel against the wind instead of with it on leaving shelter, if possible.

"After Bombing: A. Obey authorities, remain calm and resist panic. B. Don't light matches or cigarettes in building that may be filled with gas from broken lines. C. Avoid touching waste materials when arising. They may contain radioactive bomb ashes. D. Eat or drink nothing. It may be radioactively contaminated. Shun unpackaged foods, be wary of bottled or canned foods or medicines, water, until they are checked by Geiger counters. ... E. Wear rubbers or cloths on shoes when in bombed areas, remove shoes when entering home. ... Scrub clothes in disposable tubs; don't contaminate family washing machine. Bathe, scrub body. Vigorously scrub fingernails. ... Lacking water, vigorously rub skin with uncontaminated paper or cloth. ... "

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