July 18, 2014

1942. Air Raid Advice Should the War Come to America

Advice by 'Veteran' on Bombs
United Press Writer From Kansas City, Kansas Tells Americans What London Has Learned About Raids.
Source: "People offered help to neighbours. This sign says 'Shelter', and adds that if 'caught out in a raid' there was room in the family shelter for two more people."

United Press Staff Correspondent (printed in the Kansas City Dispatch)

London. -- (UP)

America is in the war, and its citizens may find it helpful to know what British civilians have learned about aerial bombardment in the event that New York, or Chicago, or Los Angeles has to "take it" as did London.

Here -- as compiled by correspondents of the United Press bureau -- are some of the guiding rules and principles demonstrating that it's good to be careful but that the actual danger -- if you cooperate with authorities -- is much less than one would imagine.

1. You can expect to be frightened. However, you get consolation from the fact that you've got lots of company, for there are few people who do not feel a sinking sensation in the stomach when a drone of bombers comes from the night sky. But you'll also find yourself trying not to act scared -- which is just about the best thing you can do for the morale of the people around you.

Odds 300,000 to 1

2. Americans here have figured out that if you live in Portland, Ore., or Birmingham, Ala., both of which have about 300,000 population, your chances of getting hit in an air raid are about one in 300,000 -- assuming that every bomb which drops kills at least one person. And that doesn't always happen. If you live in a target area -- near steel mills for example -- your chances of getting hit are greater.

3. United Press men in London have developed two philosophies toward bombings. Brydon Taves, now in South Africa, adopted a "what the hell theory," asserting that if a bomb has your name on it, there's nothing you can do about it. The other is the "no use asking for it" theory whereby you take up residence in reinforced concrete buildings and stay away from glass as much as possible when raids are on. Flying fragments of glass are probably the most dangerous results of bombing. Blasts from the biggest bombs rarely are felt more than 300 years away.

Safest Spot Disputed

4. After two years of war here, there are two schools of thought as to the safest place during a raid. One school contends that the only safe place is close to the top of a building -- you won't be buried under wreckage. The other school says that the basement is safer. Few bombs travel more than four or five stories before exploding and people in the basement usually are safe.

A good compromise would be the middle floors of a good, strong building, while if you live in a residential district your basement is fairly good protection. Britain's uncomfortable backyard Anderson air raid shelters saved thousands of lives, but the trend now is for each home to have a strongly reinforced room. One shelter -- a good one -- consists of a heavy wooden table with wire netting around the sides.

5. Above all, keep cool.