10 thoughts on “Duck And Cover”

  1. We never did duck and cover where I grew up, I missed a valued experience, apparently. We had to rush out into the school hallway, squat down facing the wall and pull out coats over our heads.

  2. In the classroom for the senior-level class I teach, there is an indexed handbook on what to do in various kinds of emergencies.

    My fave is the emergency procedures for “Active shooter.”

    Among the list of things is

    “Until the police know you are not a threat, they will point their guns at you — follow their directions.”

    “If you are injured, the police will not stop to help you — wait for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to arrive.”

    and last but not least

    “Stay calm!” (note the exclamation point).

  3. It’s a very good idea to seek cover if you see a bright flash of light. It’s also a very good idea to seek cover if you see a tornado, wildfire, tsunami or other threat coming your way. Quit taking video, put away your cell phone and take cover (or run, as appropriate). Don’t be a dumbass Darwin Award nominee. A “cool” video isn’t worth dying for.

    1. Actually, those dudes in Russia should have taken cover when the saw that meteor blow up. That had about a minute, was it, to get their heads down so they wouldn’t be bloodied by shards of flying glass . . .

  4. Believe it or not, I was discussing this very topic just a couple of hours ago with someone. “Duck and Cover” makes zero sense for those within the prompt effects range of the weapon (i.e. the area proximate to the Surface Zero that is subject to lethal overpressure, heat, and prompt radiation), but in a society as widely dispersed as that of the United States c. 2013, most people are not going to be within the prompt effects range of the weapon. Outside of the northeastern megalopolis and a few other places (e.g., Seattle), a 10 km circle drawn around almost any hypothetical target — strategic or terror — is going to exclude most of the population of the region.

    And what threats would those outside the circle face? Four:

    1. Thermal injury from exposure to the rising fireball

    2. Popcorning (i.e. high-speed, high-temperature soil and rock particles heated and impelled by the shock wave)

    3. Structural collapse

    4. Kinetic injury from high-velocity debris

    At 10 km from SZ, the average person will have from a few seconds to a minute to duck and cover beneath a sturdy desk, table, or other fixture. Once in the duck and cover position, this person will enjoy moderate to total protection from the four effects listed above. Take heat for example: a typical school desk comprised of .625″ of wood laminate atop a frame of 18-gauge enameled sheet steel my seem small, but it can cast a shadow of almost 450 square inches, which could almost completely protect a child from heat pulse even in the open so long as the desktop is between the child and the fireball. In the classroom, the desk’s shadow combined with the shadows thrown by the school building’s roof, walls, etc. are added offer a student fairly complete protection from heat. The steel frame and wood laminate desktop will also absorb practically all popcorning and debris damage that might otherwise accrue to the student beneath it. And, in the unlikely event that a distant nuclear blast causes the partial or complete collapse of the students’ reinforced concrete school building, the heavy-gauge steel desk will do much to keep debris off little Susie’s head.

    Folks forget that the Duck and Cover routine and the various fallout shelter designs promulgated by the federal government during the Cold war were not just run up from the whole cloth. They were the results of many, many techniques and designs tested under real-world conditions at the Nevada and South Pacific nuclear test sites. They were chosen for their simplicity, ease of performance, and effectiveness. They worked then. They will work today — God forbid, of course.

    1. The later pooh-poohing of Duck and Cover was predicated on the notion that an all-out nuclear war would Destroy All Life on Earth™, and that survivors would Envy The Dead®.

      It was in many ways a dress rehearsal for other The World Is Doomed™® scams we’ve seen since the end of the Cold War.

      1. Actually, those “world is doomed” scams were going strong in the early 70s, well before the Cold War end with Paul Erlich and the Club of Rome and all the other Population Bombers.

      2. McGeehee, let us recall that the Euros believed the same thing about heavy bombers during the 1930s. If you read the hypothetical stories about what would happen to the population, they sound remarkably similar to those set after a nuclear exchange.

        Also recall the widespread common wisdom that “the bomber will always get through.” We may say the military science of the time was … “settled.”

    2. I wonder how much of the sarcasm directed at duck-and-cover came from the big-city elites who were in primary blast zones. Best strategy for people in flyover country isn’t important.

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