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Having noted President Trump’s rather gung-ho, fire and fury attitude to nuclear deterrent and the possibility that he might wake up at 3.00am one morning, reach for the Twitter button on his mobile phone (I was going to say ‘smart phone’ but clearly ‘Smart’ and ‘Trump’ do not sit very well together) and inadvertently trigger World War 3. I decided to dig out my battered copy of Civil Defence Handbook No. 10 “Advising the Householder on Protection against Nuclear Attack” and swot up… just in case.

This slim booklet was prepared by the Home Office and Central Office of Information in 1963 and sold through Her Majesty’s Stationery Office at 9d a copy… that’s 9 pennies in old currency.

It is basic and to the point. It starts with…

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The primary purpose of the government’s defence policy is to prevent war; but until general disarmament has been achieved and nuclear weapons brought under international control there still remains some risk of nuclear attack. If such weapons were used in war they would cause casualties and destruction on a vast scale. In areas close to the explosions most people would be killed instantly…

And then it lists the 3 main causes…

  1. HEAT
    An H-bomb explosion creates a huge white-hot fireball which lasts about 20 seconds and gives off tremendous heat. The heat is so intense that it can kill people in the open up to several miles.
  2. BLAST
    Blast would follow the heat waves like a hurricane. Buildings would be destroyed or severely damaged for several miles from the explosion and there would be lighter damage for many miles beyond that.
  3. FALL-OUT
    Fall-out is the radioactive dust sucked up from the ground by the explosion.

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It then goes on to suggest numerous ways of protecting yourself, ranging from whitewashing your windows in order to reflect away most of the heat-flash from the initial blast to building a Fall-Out Shelter’ inside your house using bricks and sandbags, or doors taken off their hinges or tables tilted against the wall. Although Handbook No 10 advises us that ‘fall-out’ rapidly diminishes with time – the radiation being about 100 times less harmful after two days than it was at first – it is still very dangerous and the government’s principal advice is to stay in the fall-out shelter in your home until told otherwise…

TAKE COVER AND DO NOT GO OUTSIDE AGAIN UNTIL YOU ARE TOLD BY WARDENS OR THE POLICE THAT IT IS SAFE TO DO SO.

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Because your home is going to be your principal place of shelter the booklet advises you to prepare emergency supplies of tinned or non-perishable foods and a quart of water per person to last for at least fourteen days. It reminds you not to forget the needs of babies, invalids or pets.

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There are also check lists of other essential requirements such has bedding, personal papers, a clock, a portable radio with spare batteries, a camping stove and face flannels, plus a large receptacle with a cover and improvised seat for use as a toilet and a First Aid kit containing, perhaps surprisingly, ½ pound of salt and 4 ounces of Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Powder)

There are also lots of tips on saving water, including tying up the stopcock in your W.C cistern so that clean water is not used for flushing and filling up the bath and storage tanks in the roof. Keep them covered against fall-out…

REMEMBER, RADIATION ITSELF DOES NOT AFFECT WATER, BUT IF FALL-OUT DUST GETS INTO IT, THE WATER BECOMES DANGEROUS TO DRINK. BOILING DOES NOT MAKE WATER FIT TO DRINK ONCE IT HAS BEEN CONTAMINATED BY FALL-OUT.

Civil Defence Handbook No. 10 “Advising the Householder on Protection against Nuclear Attack” does not finish with any encouraging words about us surviving a nuclear attack if we do what we’re told and pull together or keeping calm and carrying on. Its only comment in that direction is a single sentence on the back cover…

“Survival during and immediately after an attack would depend largely upon the actions taken by individual men and women.”

Fascinating Aida

As for me, should Mr Trump decide to push the button I’m going to follow the good advice given by ‘Fascinating Aida’.

— from Martyn Day