A very interesting article appeared in the Science section of the New York Times, about how best to survive a nuclear blast. Surprisingly, the best thing to do is go down into a basement and wait for a few hours. Even hunkering down in a car for awhile will cut down casualties.
What is more interesting, to me at least, is the fact that this simple solution has been known for quite some time, but the authorities in America are afraid to publicize it, for fear of throwing people into a panic. Note that this article did not appear on the front pages of the New York Times – just in the Science section. (Perhaps they thought that people who are interested in science would be less prone to panic?) Note also the title – preparing for the “unthinkable”. How can you prepare to survive something that you can’t even think about?
It all comes down to culture I guess. Here in Israel, we know that bad things can, and do, happen. Our history as Jews, both ancient and modern, contain so many horrors that we don’t have the luxury of denial. Our society takes the responsibility of saving lives so seriously that not informing the public of a way to help survive an attack for fear of panic is absurd, if not criminal.
We exchanged our gas masks a few months ago, as I wrote on the blog before. I still receive robo-calls from the Home Front Command to do so, so the campaign is still going strong. These calls do not make people panic – we do what we can to protect ourselves, and then get on with our lives.
What will it take for Americans to learn to do the same?