Protection from the Atomic Bomb
May 6, 2008 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Protection from the Atomic Bomb A 1950 pamphlet provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
posted by jonson (27 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Read this now! Before anything happens!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:54 PM on May 6, 2008

Compare and contrast: Protect and Survive
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:57 PM on May 6, 2008

So the seeming cool-kid livejournal boycott has been lifted?! Cool.
posted by cashman at 2:23 PM on May 6, 2008

Of the three ways in which the A-Bomb can hurt you, RADIATION IS THE LEAST HARMFUL

Well, that's comforting to know.
posted by Acey at 2:38 PM on May 6, 2008

Those weeeere thaaaaa daaaaaaaays! - Edith "A-bomb" Bunker.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:40 PM on May 6, 2008

Well, that's comforting to know.

Well, it is. You could survive the radiation and possibly move yourself out of harm's way. The heat blast will immolate you, the blast front will bury you in rubble or tear your body up with flying debris. If you survive those and manage to get yourself into a shelter for the necessary two weeks, you're going to live.

Of course, it's like saying that OD'ing on Tylenol is less harmful than throwing yourself into a vat of sulfuric acid.
posted by dw at 2:46 PM on May 6, 2008

At least we've moved on since then...
posted by Acey at 3:01 PM on May 6, 2008

posted by Citizen Premier at 3:13 PM on May 6, 2008

When you see a flash of light brighter than the sun -

Don't run: there isn't time.
Fall flat on your face.

Why is it that my first thought was: "Boy, it would have been fun to fuck with people who believed this"?

*camera flash*

This is it! The big one! Hide! Hide! Hide!

I love this kind of cold war civil-defense stuff.
posted by quin at 3:31 PM on May 6, 2008

I caught the tail end of "curl up into a ball under your school desk" drills at school. At one point later in life, I thought I had to be remembering that wrong. Surely, those were tornado drills, or something. Nope. Found newspaper articles about it later while doing genealogical research at the Historical Society.
posted by RavinDave at 4:02 PM on May 6, 2008

Self-Preservation In An Atomic Attack (1950 video).
"'Find yourself a hole and make like a mole.' 'When you get the warning, don't stop to ask what's might be you.'"
Survival Under Atomic Attack (1951 video).
posted by ericb at 4:20 PM on May 6, 2008

Duck and cover.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:25 PM on May 6, 2008

It's been mentioned here before, but now on Google video


No pamphlet required.
posted by mattoxic at 4:53 PM on May 6, 2008

Well some things never change " ...their air is safe to breath and their water is safe to drink... "
posted by madamjujujive at 4:57 PM on May 6, 2008

No links display in the FPP for me. Commies...I know it.....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 5:45 PM on May 6, 2008

Love the sort of whimsical way "ATOMIC BOMB" is typeset on the cover of the pamphlet. Makes you think of some cartoon clown explosion, you know, where the victim walks away from the blast all covered in soot and raggedy, but essentially intact. And of course, that's sort of the way this stuff was presented back then: "sure, it's a little scary, but as long as you duck, you'll probably be OK!"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:48 PM on May 6, 2008

Too funny. Just today I transfered a Nixon-era DoD/Civil Defense film on this very topic. I think the narrator was holding this very same pamphlet, though it's hard to tell since the images in the FPP are red Xs.
posted by NoMich at 6:10 PM on May 6, 2008

Love the sort of whimsical way "ATOMIC BOMB" is typeset on the cover of the pamphlet.

I thought Chick Tracts does A-Bomb pamphlets
posted by mattoxic at 6:45 PM on May 6, 2008

I'm still waiting for the pamphlets of:

"When Shit Hits the Fan: A Survival Kit"

"The Atomic Bomb and You--Kiss Your Ass Goodbye"
posted by dasheekeejones at 7:05 PM on May 6, 2008

I think the difference between the 1950 pamphlet and the 1980 one is directly attributable to the differences in weapons that would have been used at different times. The instructions in the '50 pamphlet aren't unreasonable when you take into account the weapons of the day and the very limited experience they had with them. They're not bad advice if you look at the Hiroshima bombing, for instance.

By 1980 the weapons were real city-killers, and there were a lot of them (I've heard it was expected there'd be an average of one large detonation every 20 minutes over each major U.S. city for several hours), so the instructions are more of a confidence-builder than anything really helpful.

When we think of 'nuclear war' today, we think of the late Cold War threat, which was basically a "Terminator 2"-style apocalypse. Pretty much bend-over-and-kiss-it time. But that wasn't really what people in the late 40s and early 50s envisioned when they were doing disaster planning, because the bombs hadn't gotten quite that big and there weren't quite so many of them. It's mostly viewed through the lens of later weapon developments that the early civil defense initiatives look so ridiculous. I'm not sure that they were that stupid given the way the threat was understood.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:34 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Kadin makes a good point. Little Boy had a 15 kiloton yield when it killed 140,000 people in WW2.

A single Russian submarine-launched ballistic missile from the late 70s/early 80s would consist of 10 independently targeted warheads each with a 200 kiloton yield.

One of the Typhoon class submarines from the movie Hunt For Red October would carry 20 of those missiles.

20 missiles x 10 warheads each x 200 kiloton yield = 40,000 kiloton total yield on just one submarine. Compared to 15 for Hiroshima.
posted by Ryvar at 11:37 PM on May 6, 2008

I'm not sure that they were that stupid given the way the threat was understood.

They aren't particularly stupid given the threat at any time in the last sixty years, including today. If some rogue state/terrorist/disgruntled teenager managed to set off a nuclear weapon in a populated area tomorrow, pretty much every piece of advice in that booklet would be accurate and useful.

In a "throw everything we've got" US-vs.-USSR scenario, obviously all bets are off: everybody's boned. But that's hardly the only possible scenario.
posted by Lazlo at 12:10 AM on May 7, 2008

Yep, we're so much smarter these days.
posted by ElvisJesus at 5:05 AM on May 7, 2008

That's Our Commonwealth!

(I seem to remember seeing one of these, growing up in Texas, too ...)
posted by aldus_manutius at 8:09 AM on May 7, 2008

Pick out shelter...even behind a pile of dirt.

Call me to order your new cue lur shelters. I can install your pile of dirt today.

I am wondering, though - I am a pig and I love mud. Will a vat of mud suffice?
posted by valentinepig at 12:41 PM on May 7, 2008

"They can reach to a mile and a half, thru the air."

thru?! I always thought that was an internet-age abbreviation. I guess not.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:39 PM on May 8, 2008

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