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Grounded: 1953

Grounded: 1953

April 9, 1953. Oak Ridge, Tennessee. "Civil Defense air raid drill, Highland View School." Photo by Ed Westcott for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. View full size.


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I remember those days

I always hoped the duck and cover drill would fall when it was Arithmetic class, but it usually happened during the music or art hour.


I believe that I am from prime time of the Duck And Cover Generation (January 1949), but I don't recall ever doing the school drills. I attended parochial schools; these may have had a somewhat impractical dependence on higher authority for protection.

Agree with Marty G.

The consequences of an atomic devise going off in proximity to those children would cook them. The ensuing exchange of devises will cook the rest of us too.

[DEVICE. Not "devise." - Dave]

The duck brooches

Read: How 'Duck-and-Cover' Drills Channeled America's Cold War Anxiety. Now I understand the meaning of Ms's brooches!

Zombie Elementary?

This picture is truthfully serious and sad. I remember these drills and when the idea our lives were so threatened that we had to prepare for a nuclear attack existed.

But now, from the safety of decades later, I look at this picture and think: What if, after the secondary blast, some of the children look up with glowing eyes? We're gonna need a green screen and some serious digital effects.

Dave is very correct

The image from Japan, although dramatic to not reflect the varied structure types. The bombs dropped 15 Kiloton and 20 Kiloton. The type and amount of damage depends on the altitude the bomb is detonated. Nagasaki bomb was detonated at a higher altitude, and there for caused more damage.

High altitude blasts cause a lot of damage, but max out on EMF. Low altitude burst gives the largest kill radius/radiation impact. Ground burst is effected by terrain and maximizes radiation effects. (Soil, debris, etc is tossed higher and further. This material is irradiated with various types of radiation that kills short term, long term)

That being said, people are a bit overly dramatic on the area nuclear weapons impact. (thank You Hollywood) It is very plausible for a person to survive a blast as close as 10-15 miles, depending on size, terrain and blast type.

Tactical weapons are going to be in the Kiloton range. This will allow the invading force to enter the area (later). Strategic weapons will be in the megaton range for maximum kill, but the area will be so irradiated, invasion or entry would not be practical.

If the children were (as Dave pointed out) alerted to a blast, they may be outside the high damage and moderate damage areas and most likely more susceptible to radiation issues. However, if in the "moderate damage zone" being within all those trees may not be the best locaton!

An interesting available for download is "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons" (Samuel Glasstone/Philip Dolan)

How I Survived the Cuban Missile Crisis

I was in first grade. Our school had two different alarms. The fire alarm meant to leave the building. The other alarm meant to go down to the basement and face the wall.


This would be as effective as the Duck-and-Cover drills we did in school. Just another way to traumatize young kids.

[Not ridiculous. If you're in the primary blast area, you won't have time to react and will be vaporized in an instant. But if you do have time to react after seeing a flash, you're in a secondary blast area, where flying glass or other debris from the shock wave can kill or blind you. Ducking and covering might save your life. - Dave]

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