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Fallout: When and How to Protect Yourself Against It

Office of Civil Defense Mobilization
Creative Arts Studio

When Congress and the Eisenhower Administration approved the creation of the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization during the summer of 1958, one of the first tasks given the new agency was the problem of fallout.  Although shrugged off as nominal threat for the previous decade, by the late 1950’s fallout radiation was being treated as a dangerous and long lasting effect of atomic attack.  The immediate result of the this new position was the release of dozens of pamphlets and films encouraging the creation of home shelters.  As part of this campaign, the animation experts of Creative Arts Studio were contracted in 1959 to provide a brief overview of fallout, its effects, and methods of protection.  The same year, Creative Arts would also release Emergency Hospital, a "filmograph" of still images strung together with narration to highlight to the packaged disaster hospital storage program enacted by the OCDM.
Composed in a similar filmograph format, Fallout: When and How to Protect Yourself Against It, features an authoritarian narrator who sternly directs an animated man through the steps needed for appropriate civil defense preparations.  Each of the narrator's remarks express the primary goal of fallout awareness, which for the OCDM also included recalling a number of previously released films which neglected to mention the threat of radioactivity.  Beginning with a live action mushroom cloud which quickly morphs into cartoon fallout, the narrator announces the new threat, prompting a panicked reaction by the cartoon character who is quickly established as an image of the average American.  "But how will you know if there is fallout?  You can't see, hear, smell, or taste fallout!"  As a counter fallout's invisible nature, the film offers an interesting test to detect its presence.  By placing a white dinner plate outdoors during the early stages of possible accumulation, the amount of dust on the plate will give some form of measurement.  The particles on the plate will act like mini X-Ray machines, shooting particles off in every direction.  "If you are exposed to too many of them, you will be hurt!"  Expert monitors across the nation will be tracking wind dispersal and dose rates, all of which will be announced via radio and television in the affected areas.  "Especially on the Conelrad frequencies 640 and 1240!"


Similar precautions should be taken when traveling in your car, which should also be stocked with emergency supplies.  Farmers and ranchers have an additional duty, to keep their cattle and their feed covered from fallout well in advance of any threat.  Such assets would be vital following an enemy attack.  Failure to follow these instructions will result in radiation sickness, the film sternly warns.  Evidence of too much exposure will first be seen in loss of appetite, ill feelings, and easy bruising.  Even if these symptoms go away, they may return along with the loss of hair, indicating severe sickness.  This scenario can be avoided, however, with proper shelter.  Wrapping up, the film offers quick descriptions of the various types of home shelters which work best, and their associated costs.  Each design, which can be acquired through pamphlets provided by local civil defense officials, was designed for lowest cost and maximum protection.  The narrator makes it clear that a trip to the local warden post to inspect these plans would be a worthwhile excursion.

Fallout: When and How to Protect Yourself may be viewed, in its entirety,