Thursday, May 06, 2010

Prepare: The spectre of nuclear war

 The meeting in New York this week between several nations discussing the proliferation and threat of nuclear weapons brings up today's post. The threat of nuclear war is still with us, but is far different than it was originally.

In 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the possibility of full scale nuclear war appeared imminent, here is what the family of the time faced. Dad might be a few miles away at the factory or office, or maybe downtown whereas the family lived in one of the new tract home suburbs popping up across the United States.

A fallout shelter might have been in the basement or perhaps in the backyard if they had the time or money. It was stocked with cans of Campbells Soup, powdered milk and Sanka instant coffee. In the event of a nuclear attack, Civil Defense sirens would sound their low warbling tone, and radio stations would switch over to the Conelrad system with the purpose of instructing listeners of what actions to take.

An nuclear attack on the US in 1962 would have been carried out with long range bombers, some short range submarine launched missiles and a several intercontinental ballistic missiles. The US would have had anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour or more before a bomb might land near their location. At the same time, the US would have scrambled hundreds of bombers from across the US and launched its own intercontinental ballistic missiles once confirmation was received. Submarines would have moved to launch positions and wait for the second or third salvo. Some US Navy ships would do the same.

1962 Dad may have time to get home and get the family to the shelter. Mother would have filled water containers and collected more canned food from the kitchen. Sissy would get her favorite doll and Junior his baseball glove. Dad would have collected a flashlight, batteries and maybe a portable AM radio and placed them in the shelter. The family might have to spend as much as two weeks in the shelter to avoid fallout.

If Dad could not get home, or if other family members were away, they might have had to shelter in one of the public fallout shelters found in many office and public buildings. There, they would have access to basic medical supplies, energy biscuits, canned water and other supplies put in place by the Federal Government Office of Civil Defense.

Today would be a different situation. Very few countries possess the ability to launch multiple nuclear devce bearing vehicles at the US. In today's terrorist attack world, a nuclear device may be smuggled into the country and detonated in a van or storage container. The nuclear weapon may actually only be a conventional bomb with nuclear material creating a "dirty bomb" instead.

In this case, there would not be any advance notice or time for preparation. If a country did launch an attack on the US, most people do not have a fallout shelter or access to one. The US Civil Defense Department was renamed FEMA and in the past thirty years, has removed nearly all Civil Defense supplies and closed public shelters. Even the old Fallout Shelter signs have been taken down.

People who used to work in the same communities they lived in, now may be 40,50 or 60 miles away from home. Mom and Dad both work these days and Junior and Sissy might be at school, an activity or at a sitters home. Basically, the whole family could very well be miles apart when an attack happens. Further, as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina showed, a nuclear attack would quickly overwhelm city and public services nationwide and the government may be days away from any response.

In a nutshell, let's hope that the world powers work out a good way to avoid nuclear war, rather than make it a possible reality. Simply put, we are not ready and as a society, would most likely not survive.

Do you have food insurance?

1 comment:

Bitmap said...

Hope and pray we never have to find out if we could survive that.

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