Studies in Crap survives nuclear war 

Title: Your Family Survival Plan
Author: Miami County Public Advisory Council
Date: 1968
Discovered: at A Place in Time Antiques, Olathe
The cover promises: Even your Tic Tacs could be a tiny fallout shelter.
Representative quote: "If the radiation level in your area indicates that animal sickness may be widespread, you probably will be given instructions on slaughtering. Care must be taken in slaughtering to prevent contamination of the carcasses by fallout particles" (page 11).


On September 11, 2001, your Crap Archivist was working a temp job at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. After a long day of sitting, jittery and slack-jawed, through meetings that nobody could believe hadn't been canceled, I drove past University Tower, a glassy 13-story office building that was the only structure in town with any aspiration of scraping the sky.

Emergency vehicles sat parked all around it, their lights spinning. First responders stood around outside. Some were directing the placement of concrete roadblocks, but most seemed to be there just because it made people feel better, kind of like when local TV reporters are sent to stand in front of a building where a school board had met hours before. In this case, however, the school board was a thousand miles up the coast.

This was an understandable vanity. Shocked by the sudden, brutal reminder that terror could rain from the heavens even in America, we began to fear that it was likely to do so, that our lives there, in Durham, might also be targeted by thugs a world away. Those thugs might have known about University Tower; maybe a concrete roadblock would keep them out.

For Americans just a touch older than I am, such thinking was hardly new. Throughout the middle of the 20th century, nuclear anxiety saturated American life. A pamphlet like this one — and the thousands produced by other counties and municipalities across the nation — offered two reassuring lies. First, that in the grand scheme of geopolitics, Miami County mattered enough to worry about. Second, that a nuclear attack and its subsequent fallout were no match for American know-how and the Boy Scout motto.

So how did the civil defense coordinator of Miami County, Kansas, make us feel better about our fear of the bomb? First, by offering a list of public shelters to seek out when the Emergency Broadcast System announced an attack: a grocery store in Bucyrus, the Eagles Lodge in Paola, and Louisburg's Western Auto. Here's more advice on prepping for the day after:

"Seven hours after the burst, fallout is only 1/10 as radioactive as it was 1 hour after the burst. After 2 days, it is only 1/100 as radioactive as it was at 1 hour."

"The children at school will be under the protection of school officials who are expert in controlling and safeguarding groups of children under emergency conditions."

"Animals which have grazed on contaminated pastures could be slaughtered and muscle meat would be fit for human consumption. However, internal organs, such as the liver and spleen, should not be eaten."

To improve shelter in a basement, "Fill boxes or dresser drawers with the heaviest material readily available (sand, bricks, or, if you have nothing heavier, newspapers or books). Stack these materials on the top and at the sides of [a] table or workbench. Be careful not to overload the table to the point of collapse."

"Those who are aged and infirm or invalid, and have no relatives or nearby neighbors, are advised to notify the County Civil Defense Director as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made in the event it is needed."

"Chickens would be a particularly important direct food resource because they are relatively resistant to radiation, especially if they are raised under cover, using safe packaged feeds."

Now that the urban chicken lot is trendy, you can add hens to the survival list helpfully reprinted here.

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