Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Not Your Father's Air Raid Drill

What safety drills did you practice as a child?  When I was in school, we had fire drills from both the classroom, and the bus that I rode daily.  We still have fire drills at work, rude but necessary interruptions of productivity.  My favorite fire drill was at an office tower that provided complimentary ice cream in the parking lot at the designated safe distance from the building.

I've seen videos of earthquake drills in Tokyo, though I am not sure if they do that here in California.  We've had a couple of tiny real ones which prompted us to talk to the boys about getting out of the house, or in a doorway, under a desk.  Barley was pretty freaked out after his first one at age 5, which also made us realize we hadn't yet strapped down the large-screen TV he was standing next to at the time.

When I was in elementary school, we did air raid drills of the "duck and cover" variety.  Link to wikipedia page on the topic here.  We trooped out to the hallway, and knelt facing the wall, crouching down and covering our heads with our arms until the alarm stopped.  These may also have been related to nuclear attack, rather than air raid, since we were not in an active war when I was in school.

They don't do them anymore, or at least not out here on the west coast.  Instead, their annual school drill is a much more alarming lockdown, designed to protect the children in the event of a school shooting.  Our children were veterans of a few years worth of such practice before another parent clued me in on what the drill really was.  A pretty good description of it is posted here.  In light of the world we live in, it is a necessary, and wise precaution.  But personally, I found this type of threat much more viscerally frightening than the vague air raid or fallout practices of my childhood.


  1. We did lame duck & cover drills in grade school in the midwest. They weren't related to earthquakes... just nuclear bombs, and even as a kid I knew they were stupid.

    Some years back my parents saw some article in a newspaper which purported to give the reader a chance to determine the most historically significant event from a long list of possibilities by answering "a or b" style questions over and over again until you got a most important (or influential) event in your life. I looked the list over and immediately told them it was the development of the nuclear bomb. They didn't believe me and made me answer all the stupid questions, but I was right in the end.

    Years of being drilled in how to hide from something that was going to kill me anyway as a kid paid off, at least for that. :)

  2. Kids can be over trusting and over cautious. The trick is to find the middle ground.

  3. The lockdown drills have put panic in my kids for a long time. The worst was the one they did the day after the Virginia Tech shootings. Morons in charge.


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