Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Reviving Duck and Cover

The concern about terrorists detonating an atomic or radiological bomb in an American city has been in the news lately, particularly since the release of a government report on best practices afterwards. Glen Reynolds has more at The Atlantic.
Those few survivors -- mostly badly injured, unless they happened to be inside a bank vault at the time, or something -- in the central area are likely pretty much on their own. The chance that emergency services can get into the zone and find them before the fallout starts to settle is virtually zero. Those in the middle zone may get some help, but not right away. Those in the outer zone, however, will be tempted to flee, and that's what the authorities want to discourage.
It seems that the best thing most people can do is to shelter in place for a couple days, even if that means staying in your car.
The radiation from fallout...decays according to a straightforward rule, called the 7/10 rule: Seven hours after the explosion, the radiation is 1/10 the original level; seven times that interval (49 hours, or two days) it is 1/10 of that, or 1/100 the original, and seven times that interval (roughly two weeks) it is 1/1000 the original intensity. Because it is dust, fallout travels with the wind.
So stay out of the wind. Close the windows. Tape them up if you can.

Reynolds mentions the 1951 school film Duck & Cover. While I don't remember watching the film, my class did practice filing into the cement block closet and crouching in the dark in case Mr. Khrushchev exploded an atomic bomb over Dunwood School.

I was impressed enough at about age six to pull wine bottles out of the family trash, fill them with water, and store them in the pump room in our basement. While it had a flimsy wooden door, the walls were cement block and the ceiling was poured concrete. Assuming the house didn't catch fire, it might have been a decent shelter.

I also asked Santa for a hundred sacks of concrete to build a bomb shelter under our summer porch, but either he was blase' about the possibility of nuclear Armageddon, the reindeer just weren't up to the weight, or possibly Santa, well-known for wearing a red suit, was a bit on the pink side himself as I didn't get the concrete.

We did have a couple Nike missile sites fairly close by: one near my sister's school in River Hills, and another downtown on the lakefront, about where the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum now stands. From time to time the white missiles would be tilted out of their concrete bunkers and we could see them pointed into the sky. What wasn't widely known at the time was that they carried nuclear warheads. The plan was to launch them at incoming formations of Soviet bombers- themselves laden with nuclear bombs- and airburst them about sixty miles from Milwaukee, destroying the bombers before they could nuke Milwaukee.

The locations of cities like Oshkosh and Manitowoc just about sixty miles out may have been seen as a bug, but better to wipe out our own small cities rather than lose a big one, I guess.

Here is Duck & Cover:

While it is a bit off topic, I was interested to see that it depicts racially integrated classrooms.

Labels: , , , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home