We’ve not run this drill lately, so let’s go through it again:
1. Go to the innermost room of the building you’re in.
2. Sit on the floor with your back against the wall.
3. Hug your knees to your chest.
4. Put your head between your legs.
5. Kiss your butt goodbye.
Over the years we have dubbed this “duck and cover,” or “shelter in place,” or “anxiety attack,” or “disco abs,” but from the Cold War to today’s Hot Rockets, they still hold true when it comes to nuclear war.
It’s not your greatest generation’s nuclear bomb now, you know. Today’s warheads have many times more power than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I forget how many, and I don’t do math.
Let’s do geography: How far do you live from Fort Benning? Do you think it’s a target? Do you live in a bomb shelter with food, water and medicine? And air filtration? And a septic system?
That’s the way to survive a warhead hitting nearby: Like a fire ant in a deep freeze. Dig in and hole up.
I don’t have a hole to dig up in, but maybe I won’t be here. Maybe I’ll be on vacation, out West, near all our missile silos. That’s safer, right? No one would ever target those.
Nukes are back in the news not only because “Rocket Man” is what Donald Trump keeps calling that North Korean guy from the movie “The Interview,” but because the Centers for Disease Control at 1 p.m. Jan. 16 will brief us on public health preparations for nuclear war:
“Learn how planning and preparation efforts for a nuclear detonation are similar and different from other emergency response planning efforts.”
If you can’t guess the difference, try nuclear fission.
“While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps. Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness.”
In other words, your odds of surviving nuclear war may be, as they say on TV, “more than you might imagine”:
“For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation. While federal, state, and local agencies will lead the immediate response efforts, public health will play a key role in responding.”
And we’re great at responding to disasters, you know. Just ask Puerto Rico.
America can handle anything, just like you were taught in school, when you and the other kids lined up by the classroom door to be marched into the hall to sit on the floor with your backs to the wall.
Apparently you’ll have to stay there for at least 24 hours, in a nuclear war, so you might want to take some snacks. And a pillow. And if an innermost room in which you can shelter in place happens to be a bathroom, you might want to crawl in there.
But don’t worry: You don’t have to worm in there right now and lose sleep sitting on the bathroom floor with your back to the wall. A nuclear detonation is unlikely.
If two megalomaniacs with access to whatever nuclear button they think is right there on their desk push it, maybe all that happens is they Tweet, or hack Sony pictures, or order another Big Mac.
Just remember this: If ever the emergency alert system is not a test interrupting TV cliffhangers and miracle sports comebacks, but a warning that a nuclear detonation no longer is unlikely, you know what to do.
Go to the innermost room, sit against the wall, and hug your knees with your head between your legs. For a day.
Better go on and pack some snacks, like some Fig Neutrons, or some Appleheimers.