Have you developed your Nuclear War Action Plan (NWAP) yet? Well, time is running out.

At 8am local time today, residents in Hawaii woke to a social media, radio and TV emergency telling of an inbound ballistic missile attack. Traditional media urged them to shelter in a building. Social media didn’t. Thumb texting that information might have taken too long for all forgot to say, only minutes remained to act.

Tip 1: In the event of an inbound ballistic missile, take shelter in a building.

Thankfully, the warning turned out to be an oopsie. Someone in Hawaii’s Emergency Management Command running a systems check, pushed the wrong button and suddenly a “This is not a drill” message flashed out with missiles roaring towards the island chain (one can assume from North Korea, Iran or Pasdaran-backed Hezbollah—none of whom of course, are publicly confirmed as having a nuclear strike capability).

Tip 2: Your government hasn’t told you this but bad people already have nuclear missiles aimed at you.

But there’s more. Six months ago, at the then height of the latest North Korean missile scare, Japanese school children went through extensive survival exercises simulating a nuclear attack inbound for them.

Tip 3: After taking cover inside a building (within minutes), hide under a table or curl into a ball on the floor.

These children were assured that a curl or table shield would protect them from kilotonnes of explosive force, a massive heat blast more searing than a thousand suns and a shockwave that mere wood and brick would, without doubt, withstand. I mean we’ve seen Ben Affleck survive a nuclear blast in “The Sum of All Fears”, right? And he was in an aluminium helicopter.

The good news is, these were the same procedures practiced by millions of Americans in the 1950s and they even had a name:

Duck and Cover

When facing danger, Bert the Turtle knows what to do.

They came with a print, radio and TV campaign and a mini-documentary; with a catchy jingle. A celebrity followed along too. He was “Bert the Turtle” and he “was very alert”.

Tip 4: Sing a jingle about what you’re going to do at every meal break.

These ads ran frequently. People just like the school kids in Japan the other month, rehearsed them over and over. They were government sanctioned. The whole caboodle fell under America’s Federal Civil Defense program better known today, as Homeland Security.

In a message of gall-inducing understatement these ads said, “We all know the Atomic Bomb is very dangerous and may be used against us. We all must get ready for it”. But that’s ok because, “Most of the time we think we’ll be warned before the bomb explodes”.

Tip 5: Get ready for it.

These ads came with some other great tidbits too. You see, if you’re a guy wearing a shirt when the bomb goes off, well, pull your collar over the back of your neck to avoid getting burned.

Paul and Patty show how to hunker down against searing radioactive heat.

And if you’re a gal walking next to him be sure to place the coat you’re carrying over your head. It really helps too if you do all this hunkered down against a brick wall in the street, for that way you’ll be doubly safe. Thankfully “Paul and Patty” were able to illustrate this in the documentary. Often times, visuals really help in training and development.

Tip 6: Draw some pictures for your team. It helps.

The main thing is, as these ads went to air in 1951-52 the United States and Australia, with other allies, had recently invaded North Korea and were then entangled in a brutal war with Communist China. Coincidentally, this very all or nothing strategy was employed against Iraq fifty years later. No peace treaty with North Korea and the US has ever been signed. Hence, the tensions along the peninsula mounting today.

Tip 7: History repeats. Learn from it.

These ads ran for the best part of a decade before being written off by the Federal Civil Defence Agency. And though the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 sent the world into a new nuclear-fear ridden spin unparalleled till the Reagan-Gorbachev standoff of the 80s, it’s highly likely that the media too finally realised, “Who the heck are we kidding”?

Till now.

Today’s fiasco in Hawaii is what you get when politicians begin using words like “nuclear” and “war” in the same sentence and media commentators give them plausibility. This isn’t legitimisation: it’s negligence. You simply don’t play with the “nuclear” adjective in diplomacy.

The reason why the world managed to obsolete duck and cover was the blatant acronym, “MAD”. Nations understood that nuclear sabre rattling meant Mutually Assured Destruction. Hence, the computer in the movie “Wargames” asks, “Would you like to play chess?” Knowing full well that playing with nukes brings no winner.

But Duck and Cover is back, and I guess the least HR Directors can do to avoid being sued post apocalypse is get re-acquainted with it.

Therefore, please use the tips above as a guide. They’re the best wisdom humankind has generated since knocking Japan out of World War 2.

Most of all, take a look at the people you look after and make sure none of them can launch a nuclear war on their own or send fellow workers into a ballistic missile-panic as occurred in Hawaii today.

And if you do screw up, take a note from Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency Administrator, Vern Miyagi, when he said at a news conference a few hours ago, “I take full responsibility”.

Only seasoned politicians know the true art of ducking and covering after all.

© 2018 Adam Parker.
Picture credits: “Duck and Cover”. Archer Productions, 1951. Library of Congress National Film Register. Public domain. You can’t beat the real thing.