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NYC's Nuke Prep PSA Has People Asking 'Why?'

'Better safe than sorry,' Mayor Adams told reporters
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2022 9:55 AM CDT

"Don't ask me how or why. Just know that the big one has hit." So says the narrator of a recent PSA about nuclear preparedness from NYC Emergency Management. Per CBS News, the 90-second video opens on an empty street with damaged, computer-generated skyscrapers in the background. The narrator goes on to provide three basic steps New Yorkers should take: first, get inside; next, get into the basement or the middle of the building and remove outer clothing; then, hang out and monitor government and media updates. Oh yeah, wash off any radioactive dust or ash while you're at it. The PSA doesn't advise citizens to "duck and cover" like Bert the Turtle.

Despite the "don't ask me why" request, reporters and social media users quickly did exactly that. According to the Washington Post, country star John Rich summed it up in a tweet asking, "What the hell is going on?" Per NBC New York, the city's deputy commissioner for emergency management, Christina Farrell, told a reporter, "There's no overarching reason why this is the time we sent this out. It's just one tool in the toolbox to be prepared in the 21st century." She added there's no imminent nuclear threat to the city. Mayor Eric Adams reiterated that notion, but he did mention that the Russia-Ukraine war has raised risks. "I'm a big believer in better safe than sorry ... We're going to always be proactive," Adams told reporters.

Farrell acknowledged that city residents face more immediate threats, including from fires and storms (not to mention the slow-burning pandemic), but she also pointed out that the "big one" isn't the only potential nuclear threat. "There are different materials that travel throughout the city and throughout the country and world," she said, per Gothamist. "Things can happen. It doesn't have to be, you know, a large bomb that would take out the center of the city or something." (Read more PSA stories.)

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