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Random information gathering. Feel free to answer if you're not on my friends list, if you stumble upon this post at some point in the distant future, or repost if you happen to share my curiosity.

My town has a Civil Defense siren that goes off every day at noon. A friend and I were at the park with our kids the other day when it went off, and it led us to discuss our childhood experiences with such things.

She went to grade school in Texas, where apparently they had nuclear war-style duck and cover drills. And Civil Defense sirens.

I went to grade school in California. We had earthquake drills, which really amount to the same thing. No Civil Defense sirens, at least not that I ever heard.

Now, this friend and I happen to be born within 24 hours of eachother, and both started school in the mid-80s, so we're talking purely geographical difference, not generational.

So, the questions - Growing up, did your school have some sort of drill that involved ducking and covering? What was it called? Where and when was this? Did (or do you still) you have Civil Defense sirens? What are they used for (I know much of the US uses them for tornados)? How do your local schools address duck and cover drills today?

Date: 2011-02-06 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] therealocelot.livejournal.com
For what it's worth, I grew up right next to a Navy base (literally - my first elementary school shared a fence with it, and we lived across the street from the school), and within a few miles of the downtown of a major city. Now we live a few miles from another military base. But I'm not sure I even heard of the concept of nuclear war before the cold war ended.

Date: 2011-02-06 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cymrullewes.livejournal.com
It wasn't so much duck and cover but get out in to the hallway and kneel down with your back to the wall and cover your head with your hands in case the hurricane blew through. The hallway because of no windows. The cower was so if anything fell it wouldn't dash our brains out.

Date: 2011-02-06 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] therealocelot.livejournal.com
Astrid says "Look at that girl in the moon!" about your icon.

Date: 2011-02-06 06:19 pm (UTC)
cheyinka: a spoof of an iPod ad, featuring a Metroid with iPod earbuds pressed against each of its 3 internal organs (iMetroid)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
Born 1983, went to grade school and high school in Montana, never had a civil defense drill, a tornado drill, an earthquake drill, or any drill that involved ducking and/or covering.

The area of Montana where I grew up got sirens installed some time after 9/11; I believe they're only used for tornado warnings, or, at least, that's the only time I've heard them which isn't the first-Monday-of-the-month self-test.

Date: 2011-02-06 06:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] savia.livejournal.com
When I lived in the Sunset district in the city, there was a siren that would go off every weekday at noon. We have one here in Alameda, too. But I have always assumed it was a lunchtime siren. It doesn't go off on the weekends.

We had earthquake and fire drills in school, but no "OMG NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST" drills.
Edited Date: 2011-02-06 06:21 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-02-06 07:26 pm (UTC)
ext_85396: (Default)
From: [identity profile] unixronin.livejournal.com
In the UK, we all pretty much figured that if the nukes started flying, we — meaning Western Europe — were all dead anyway. US global strategy at the time was based around MAD and the idea that a "theater nuclear war" could be won by the US, where a "theater nuclear war" basically meant one in which only Western Europe got turned into a blasted radioactive wasteland. We knew quite well that all it would take was two 600MT warheads air-burst at 50,000 feet, one over north London, one over about Manchester, and the whole of England would be pretty much fucked.

I recall one of the better-regarded scholars of military strategy and technology — Gen. Sir John Hackett, iirc — estimating that if the Warsaw Pact launched a massive conventional assault across the North European plain, the first tactical nukes would fly between four and six hours after they crossed the Iron Curtain.
Edited Date: 2011-02-06 07:29 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-02-07 03:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] silkensteel.livejournal.com
And people wonder why our kids are so messed up. :)

Date: 2011-02-06 08:33 pm (UTC)
geminigirl: (Adults)
From: [personal profile] geminigirl
I grew up outside New York City-about 60 miles or so from it...a bit west from the (never operational) Shoream nuclear power plant, across the water from the Groton sub base. I was born in 1975, and we did have, in addition to fire drills, the duck and cover drills in elementary school. I don't recall them in junior high or high school though. And no civil defense sirens. However, the firehouse that I grew up near (about half a mile away) would sound their siren at noon each day.

Andrew never did duck and cover drills. He grew up in northern Ontario and is two years older than I am. And no sirens either.

I have no idea how duck and cover or civil defense sirens are handled in the schools around here-my kids aren't school aged yet. I do know that my community doesn't have tornado sirens, so I would imagine the same would go for the general sort of civil defense sirens. This was an issue a few years ago-we actually have a fair number of tornadoes here in Florida, and there was serious damage and loss of life a few years back because there was little or no warning available to the communities. Some of the municipalities have since installed sirens, ours hasn't. And we probably ought to replace our weather radio-the kids got a hold of it and wrecked it.
Edited Date: 2011-02-06 08:36 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-02-06 08:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] therealocelot.livejournal.com
I don't know what our local schools do, either. [livejournal.com profile] silkensteel says they do lockdown drills, which may be the new version of duck'n'cover for non-earthquake-prone locales.

Date: 2011-02-06 09:45 pm (UTC)
geminigirl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] geminigirl
The idea of duck and cover for earthquakes seems strange to me-it was about nuclear war. I grew up in a non-earthquake prone area though.

Date: 2011-02-06 09:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trinker.livejournal.com
When I was a kid in public schools in the 80's, in L.A., it was well known that "duck & cover" was going to do bupkis for nuclear war, at least in the L.A. area. My peers all hoped we'd be at ground zero and not in the "survivable as nuclear zombies" zone. Duck & cover was for earthquakes, and there were fire evacuation drills.

Date: 2011-02-06 10:11 pm (UTC)
geminigirl: (Mooninite)
From: [personal profile] geminigirl
It was patently obvious to most kids (I was in public school in the 80's as well) that it would do nothing in the event of nuclear war. Which didn't make them stop doing it.

Date: 2011-02-06 09:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] therealocelot.livejournal.com
It's the same basic principle - protect yourself from falling/flying objects.

Date: 2011-02-06 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zyzyly.livejournal.com
I was in kindergarden in the early 60s--like 1962, and we had air raid drills. the teacher would close the drapes and we would get under the tables. I used to practice climbing under my bed at night in case they lobbed a couple of nukes my way.

We had a civil defense siren in town, and it would go off at noon every day. We called it the noon whistle.

There was an air raid shelter in town-the basement below the Mervyn's store. When we weren't under attack, it was a bowling alley.

Date: 2011-02-06 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] therealocelot.livejournal.com
At least you wouldn't be bored if there was a nuclear war!

We had a fallout shelter under the library. I always wanted to go there and see what it was like. I'm sure there were others around town too, but I don't know where, though I think I heard there was one under our elementary school. There was a big weird concrete-and-metal thing in the ground near on a lot near our house, and I thought it was a bomb shelter, but it actually had something to do with water pumping.

Date: 2011-02-06 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twirlingecho.livejournal.com
I was born in 1975. Growing up south of Houston, TX, the only duck and cover style drills we did were for tornadoes. I only actually remember doing one- in first grade, but there may have been others I don't remember. We didn't have sirens of any sort.

Now in central Texas, we have tornado sirens. They are tested the first Friday of each month. The few times we have heard them at night, when a storm is raging, the sirens are haunting.

The schools around here only do regular fire drills- no duck and cover.

Date: 2011-02-06 09:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trinker.livejournal.com
Born in 1970, Southern California. Definite duck & cover drills, labelled "earthquake drills". Under the school desk. No civil defense sirens.

I only saw those in North Carolina last year. But they never seemed to test them.

The new thing appears to be lockdown drills, as evidenced by the mommy & me class on Friday. No ducking and covering. Locking the doors and windows, if it were a real emergency they're supposed to *tape* the gaps. (o.O !!!) LAUSD has done a few of them "for real" recently in response to gun violence or claims thereof. Procedure's still badly understood, they had kids banned from the bathrooms, and told to pee in a bucket. Claims were made that teachers were to have supplied sheets for privacy. Yikes.

Date: 2011-02-07 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tellinellen.livejournal.com
we just did firedrills. born 1974, private schools, nyc. no duck and cover.

now the boys do both firedrills and "rapid dismissal" to do.

Date: 2011-02-07 06:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] live-momma.livejournal.com
I was born in 1977 in Iowa. We had tornado drills, which involved going into a (hypothetically) window-less hall, sitting facing the wall, covering one's head and neck with one's hands or a textbook. That was at my Christian elementary school (which also did bus evacuation drills). I don't remember doing tornado or bus drills when I switched to public school in 5th grade, only fire drills.

Our local tornado sirens still go off at noon every Saturday. As of last year, they're no longer limited to use during tornado warnings, however, making them all but useless. Now they go off with any type of severe weather, which means if you hear one you have to go online and check to see if it's a tornado (drop everything and go to the basement) or a thunderstorm (because you need a siren to tell you there's thunder, lightning, and heavy rain outside, or you might wander out into it by accident).

Date: 2011-02-07 03:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] silkensteel.livejournal.com
We had the siren go off at noon every day in Ventnor. Once I left NJ, I didn't hear it again 'til we moved here. It made me jump in a good way!

Our middle school and all sturdy buildings had the old "Fallout Shelter" signs everywhere, We did not get D&C drills by the 60's/70's, but we did get disaster education and boating safety specific to living on a tiny set of barrier islands that flooded frequently.

I'm 48 years old, for reference.

Date: 2011-02-07 03:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] silkensteel.livejournal.com
I forgot. I heard the siren go off once, as an evac alert, during Hurricane Belle in the 70's. Also, it being the politically weird 70's, we'd have fire drills, the occasional bomb threat, and now and then a race riot in high school.

Date: 2011-02-07 08:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jtersesk.livejournal.com
I also grew up in San Diego, born in 1981. We had earthquake drills (duck'n'cover - cause our flimsy desks would TOTALLY protect us if the roof caved in), as well as an earthquake preparedness plan with occasional full-scale drills where we actually went outside and sat on tarps on the playground, and had emergency water and food rations stored, and the older kids were supposed to help take care of the younger kids, etc. Very elaborate. Never had to use any of it, thank goodness.

In Philly, where I went to middle and high school, we had the occasional hurricane drill, where we went to the basement and sat in the hallway. Very exciting. Haha.

Also fire drills, but I think that's pretty universal.

No sirens of any kind either place I've lived.

Date: 2011-02-09 03:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ourgosling.livejournal.com
Napier, NZ, 1978. We had earthquake drills (under desk or in doorway) right through primary school. Still occasionally have civil defense siren, but usully only when they're testing them.

Date: 2011-05-14 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fletch31526.livejournal.com
I was born in 1977 and have spent my entire life in The South™. :-) We had tornado drills in elementary school where we ducked and covered against interior walls. Tornadoes were very likely but I can imagine someone thinking that the drills could come in handy in case of a foreign attack.

Being in tornado country, we had tornado sirens. They went off one day a week at Noon. My dad was involved in the local Civil Defense chapter, so I knew that the siren had two patterns. A wail meant tornado and that was pretty much the only sound anyone heard. A second one was sort of a yelp sound and it meant that we were under attack. One day, the wrong siren sounded during the noon test and I wanted to tell as many kids in my second grade class exactly what it meant. They weren't impressed. I've always been just a smidgen bit different. :-)

(For the record, I stumbled across you via [livejournal.com profile] zyzyly and thought I'd chime in.)

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