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Protect & Survive


The front cover text reads: "This booklet tells you how to make your home and your family as safe as possible under nuclear attack".


In May 1980 the British Government published a booklet entitled Protect & Survive. Its purpose was to give members of the public information about how to defend themselves against a possible nuclear attack.


The booklet was divided into 4 chapters.


1)Challenge to Survival

2)Planning for Survival

3) Protect & Survive

4) Your Action Check List



Challenge to Survival

This section dealt with what issues of a nuclear explosion would cause the most immediate problems to survival, namely, the heat, the blast and fall-out.

Advise was given about the obvious dangers of heat and blast caused by a nuclear explosion, as well as the less apparent dangers caused by fall out. Fall-out cannot be seen smelt or felt.


Planning for Survival

This section explains what the Government wanted the population to do shortly before an attack. The advise was to stay at home, where people knew you. This would prevent the local authority from commandeering your empty home. It also prevented the roads getting totally blocked, thus hindering vital troop movements, as all the town dwellers attempted to move to the "safety" of the countryside.

In order to keep the population busy, and thus less prone to rioting, the booklet advises the construction of a Fall-out room with Inner refuge. 

The fall-out room was to be the room with least amount of exterior wall space. The inner refuge would be a secure section within the fall-out room constructed of old doors, heavy furniture and bags of earth.

Advise was given to the reader as to what was needed to create a survival kit. This would need to last for 14 days, as going outside to see what had happened before then, would have lead to a fatal dose of radiation poisoning.

The Survival Kit is described in this table

Item Amount Use
Drinking Water Three and a half gallons for each member of the family To drink, as the mains supply would be unlikely to operate after an attack, and would probably be contaminated anyway.
Clean Water Three and a half gallons for each family member. As well as water for drinking, it would also be necessary for general hygiene.
Food Fourteen days supply To consume. The food had to be eaten cold, and keeping things fresh in a fridge would not be an option. Thus the food should be dried or in tins.
Radio  Two if possible. The radio would be used after the attack to advise the survivors what to do. Of course that was if the radio had not been destroyed by the EMP blast which accompanies all nuclear explosions. Spare batteries were a must. No power meant no link to the out-side World. 
Cutlery and Crockery Enough for each family member. To help you "enjoy" your food. not forgetting the tin opener!
Warm Clothing The more the better. No power means no heat. 
Spare Clothing As many as possible. Remember space was scarce. Water could not be wasted on washing clothes. Clean ones would have quickly become a luxury.
Bedding Enough for all the occupants of the inner sanctum. If you could get any sleep, bedding would help make your relaxation be as comfortable as possible.
Portable Stove One, together with fuel. A hot meal would have been treat in the first few weeks after an explosion.
Notebook One To write your last will and testament?
First Aid Kit One A token gesture, as most of the kits available do not have decontamination chemicals provided.
Box of Dry Sand One To clean utensils when the tissues and tea towels  ran out.
Toilet Articles Two buckets, toilet rolls, plastic bags and soap Without a bucket for sanitation things would have soon become unbearable inside the fall-out room.
Toys & Magazines As many as possible 14 days cooped up in a small dark smelly hole. But at least you could play Monopoly.
Clock & Calendar One of each The clock must be mechanical, or else it would be destroyed by the EMP. The calendar would help to determine when it was "safe" to go outside again.
Torch and candles As many as possible Without these it would have been a dark and gloomy existence in your inner sanctuary. Even with them your existence would have still been very dark and gloomy.


Protect & Survive

This section gave advise about the warning sounds which would have been heard shortly before a nuclear explosion.


The attack warning would be sounded by an array of sirens situated across the country. The note would rise and fall. Simultaneous broadcasts would also be made on the radio.

Although buildings in the immediate vicinity of a bomb burst would all be destroyed or damaged by the shock wave and fire ball, those much further out would also be at great rise due to fall out (soil and other debris sucked up after the initial blast and contaminated with radioactive materials.) The alarm for fall out was three loud bangs or whistles in quick succession.

When the immediate danger had passed the all-clear would be sounded. This was a single steady note.

Advise is given as to what you should do if you hear the alarm. If at home, you should enter the inner refuge after turning off all gas, electricity and pilot lights.


If you had a fully equipped anti-radiation suit like this one you would probably be ok. The only problem was these would have only been issued to the military and other key workers, not the likes of you or I.


Your Action Check List

The final section of the booklet was a check list to be used by the reader to ensure he/she had understood, and complied with the information given in the previous three sections.



An example of a four-minute warning siren. 
If you only had four minutes to live how would you spend the time?

A number of information films were produced by the Brisiths government and would have been broadcast at times of heightened tension. Although dated by today's standards, these videos show just how niave the British Government thought it's citizens to be.





The question is,
would the survivors, on emerging from their protective shelters and seeing the devastation which was left after a nuclear attack, wish they had been killed by the blast?




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