With US-Russia tensions rapidly rising amid Vladimir Putin’s horrific invasion of Ukraine, the prospect of large-scale nuclear war has reentered the public consciousness for the first time since the end of the Cold War. Indeed, Putin just put additional nuclear forces on “special combat readiness,” although this is almost certainly just saber-rattling and not indicative of any imminent action.
After this significant, if probably mostly symbolic, escalation, nuclear explosion advisory materials from FEMA’s emergency preparedness website, Ready.gov, circulated online over the weekend because of their… erm, interesting priorities.
The FEMA website contains some useful information about nuclear explosions and how Americans should shelter if warned one may be imminent. However, it then goes on to chide us about remembering to social distance and mask while hiding from pending oblivion or radioactive fallout.
Here’s one choice passage:
“Get inside the nearest building to avoid radiation. Brick or concrete are best. Go to the basement or middle of the building. Stay away from the outer walls and roof. Try to maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people who are not part of your household. If possible, wear a mask if you’re sheltering with people who are not a part of your household.”
Another similar excerpt:
“Stay inside for 24 hours unless local authorities provide other instructions. Continue to practice social distancing by wearing a mask and by keeping a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people who [sic] not part of your household.”
Um…do federal bureaucrats really think that Americans hiding from a nuclear explosion are going to be concerned with masking or social distancing?
No actual person, except maybe Dr. Fauci in whatever special bunker for government officials he was whisked away to, is going to care about wearing their face token to virtue signal while literal nuclear bombs are headed their way.
Seriously. A federal government national security employee actually suggested that this be included. Someone, probably multiple people, above them actually said “hey, that’s a great idea!” and gave it the green light. Could these people possibly be more out of touch?
And, my personal favorite:
“If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and let the operator know if you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If you can, put on a mask before help arrives.”
Who wants to tell FEMA—which, um, should probably know this—that 9-1-1 phone lines probably aren’t going to be accessible as nuclear bombs descend? Or, dare I say, particularly helpful? And, if by some miracle emergency responders are available and can help, whether or not someone has COVID or is wearing a mask is going to be the last thing on everyone’s mind.
Some were suggesting that these bizarre and parody-worthy FEMA guidelines were just updated to include masking over the last few days amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis. I checked on the Wayback Machine, an internet archive, and these passages actually appear to have been on the website for months. But that doesn’t make them any less farcical!
We give the federal government trillions every year. Its most basic responsibility is to keep us safe from foreign threats. The least we can ask is that our national security agencies are somewhat competent, or at least not a complete joke. Clearly, they can’t even give us that much in return.