If a summer COVID surge, a monkeypox outbreak, inflation and a continuing war in Europe weren't enough to worry about — how about preparing for a nuclear attack?
Mayor Eric Adams defended New York City's newest PSA on Tuesday, saying a nuclear attack preparedness spot from the Office of Emergency Management was a "great idea" born out of the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine.
The campaign launched Monday and features a short PSA outlining three steps that New Yorkers can take "as the threat landscape continues to evolve."
Step 1? Get inside. Fast.
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It may seem obvious, which may be why OEM's PSA was met with some raised eyebrows. Some may find it a bit out-of-touch, with the COVID-19 threat very much alive as omicron subvariant BA.5 fuels a sixth pandemic wave in New York City. But the five boroughs remain a top terror target, Adams says. And that's very much the point.
Adams has said he doesn't believe the video was alarmist, telling reporters Tuesday “I’m a big believer in better safe than sorry...We're going to always be proactive, not panic, but we're going to be prepared." He also said that the message is that people should be prepared for any kind of disaster.
There are no imminent nuclear threats to New York City, Adams emphasized, but there will be a series of emergency management ads highlighting preparedness efforts. Emergency management officials say it's important to know the steps to stay safe even if the likelihood of a nuclear attack in NYC in the immediate future is quite low.
Christina Farrell, the city's emergency management deputy commissioner, also said the video isn’t tied to any specific threats. She said it's about raising awareness of something most people haven't given much thought.
“There’s no overarching reason why this is the time we sent this out,” Farrell said Tuesday. “It’s just one tool in the toolbox to be prepared in the 21st century."
She said the agency's goal is to empower people regarding a scary subject, and despite the mixed reactions to the video, “people have thanked us that we are approaching this topic.”
"We've received feedback over the years that not surprisingly one of the hazards people do not feel prepared for is something like a nuclear event," Farrell said.
Still, many New Yorkers were left asking, “Why now?” Some of a certain age saw the PSA as a sort-of blast from the past, something not seen in this country since the 1970s when messages showing cartoon turtles softening the then-very real looming threat of nuclear annihilation.
“So there’s been a nuclear attack,” the PSA released Monday starts. “Don’t ask me how or why. Just know that the big one has hit. OK. So what do we do?”
In the event of a nuclear incident, the PSA advises the following actions:
- Get inside: Move indoors and away from any windows.
- Stay inside: Close all doors and window, and move into the basement if you have one.
- Stay tuned and stay put: Follow media for latest details and watch for officials alerts when its safe to go outside.
"If you were outside after the blast, get clean immediately. Remove and bag all outer clothing, to keep radioactive dust or ash away from your body," the PSA advices.