February 28, 2022

IT’S COME TO THIS: Federal Government Warns Americans to Mask, Social Distance While Sheltering From Nuclear Explosions.

With US-Russia tensions rapidly rising amid Vladimir Putin’s horrific invasion of Ukraine, the prospect of large-scale nuclear war has reentered the public consciousness for the first time since the end of the Cold War. Indeed, Putin just put additional nuclear forces on “special combat readiness,” although this is almost certainly just saber-rattling and not indicative of any imminent action.

After this significant, if probably mostly symbolic, escalation, nuclear explosion advisory materials from FEMA’s emergency preparedness website, Ready.gov, circulated online over the weekend because of their… erm, interesting priorities.

The FEMA website contains some useful information about nuclear explosions and how Americans should shelter if warned one may be imminent. However, it then goes on to chide us about remembering to social distance and mask while hiding from pending oblivion or radioactive fallout.

Yes, seriously.

Here’s one choice passage:

“Get inside the nearest building to avoid radiation. Brick or concrete are best. Go to the basement or middle of the building. Stay away from the outer walls and roof. Try to maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people who are not part of your household. If possible, wear a mask if you’re sheltering with people who are not a part of your household.”

As Stanley Kubrick told an interviewer about his 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, “I started work on the screenplay with every intention of making the film a serious treatment of the problem of accidental nuclear war. As I kept trying to imagine the way in which things would really happen, ideas kept coming to me which I would discard because they were so ludicrous. I kept saying to myself: ‘I can’t do this. People will laugh.’ But after a month or so I began to realize that all the things I was throwing out were the things which were most truthful.”

No need to imagine Dr. Strangelove set in the era of COVID — FEMA did it for us.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Flashback: The Unexpected Return of Duck and Cover.

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