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Duration 04:10

Protect & Survive – Action After Warnings

Protect and Survive was the title of a series of booklets and a Public Information Film series produced by the British government during the late 1970s and early 1980s, dealing with emergency planning for a nuclear war.

The purpose of the programme was to provide members of the public with instructions on how to protect themselves and survive a nuclear attack. If such an attack had been deemed likely by the Government during any period of international crisis, a copy of the Protect and Survive booklet would have been distributed to every home in the UK, and the films would have been transmitted on domestic television. The booklet and the films detailed a series of steps to be undertaken by the public to improve their chances of survival during a nuclear attack. These included the recognition of attack warning, fallout warning, and all-clear signals, the preparation of a home ‘fallout room’ and the stockpiling of food, water, and other emergency supplies.

Protect and Survive was simply designed, easy to understand, and similar to the advice of most other emergency planning authorities of the time. In the opinion of some contemporary critics, however, the Protect and Survive films were deeply and surprisingly fatalistic in tone.

The Protect and Survive animated series was produced by Richard Taylor Cartoons, who also created Rabies Kills and the well-known Charley Says series.


Commentator: A warning may come quite unexpectedly. We will now tell you what to do if a warning sounds when you are at home, and then we will explain what to do when you are out of doors.

First, if you are at home: if an attack is imminent you will hear the attack sound like this [sirens]. So take cover at once. Send your young children to the fall-out room and then go quickly and turn off the gas and the electricity at the mains. Close down stoves, damp down fires, shut windows and draw curtains. Then go to your fall-out room and stay there. If the fall-out warning sounds are heard they will be like these: [thumps, ringing, whistling]

You should now move yourself and your family to the safest area in your fall-out room, that is, you should get inside your inner refuge and stay there. After two days the danger from fall-out will get less, but don’t take any risks by contact with it. The longer you stay in your refuge the better it will be for you.

Listen to your radio, stay where you are and keep listening to your radio.

Now this is what you should do if you are out of doors when the warning sounds.

Take cover at once when you hear the attack sound [sirens]. If you cannot reach home in ten minutes, take cover in the nearest building. If there is no building nearby try to find some solid cover. If there is no solid cover, lie flat in a ditch or a hole and cover your head, face and hands as fast as you can with some of your clothes. If you hear the fall-out warning [thumping], seek the nearest and best cover as quickly as you can, but before entering the building or cover, brush or shake-off any fall-out dust you may have picked up and get rid of it. Change your outer clothing if you can and stay under cover. When the all-clear sounds like this [sirens], it means that you are safe from attack or fall-out for the time being and you can go out again. But keep listening for further warnings or your radio for further advice.