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Cold War survival: Life in a fallout shelter

With superpowers in the east and west testing powerful new weapons, the Canadian race for self-preservation took off in the early 1950s. The rising of the Iron Curtain intensified the threat of mass destruction, as communication between the Americans and Soviets came to a screeching halt. In this volatile new world, Canadians fretted about fallout shelters and the government prepared to go underground.

Before a crowd of anti-bomb protesters, the McCallum family emerge from their week-long stay inside a fallout shelter located on the Toronto CBC grounds. "We not only survived, we thrived," says a relieved but tired McCallum. Conditions inside the 13-foot-long shelter are primitive. Ventilation is confined and the only source of light and heat is via open flame.

The Emergency Measures Organization has laid out 11 steps for survival which McCallum and other pro-shelter families are taking to heart. The EMO advises that Canadians must know how to eliminate radioactive dust, prepare a two-week emergency supply of food and provisions, and know how to prevent and fight fires. CBC Television features this report on the McCallum family and how to survive a nuclear disaster. 
• The book 11 Steps to Survival, distributed by the Canada Emergency Measures Organization, advised that fallout shelters should be stocked with 14 days worth of food. Included in the provisions list: two jars of cheese, 14 cans of milk, 14 individual packages of cereal, two cans of meat, chewing gum, two packages of cookies, two cans baked beans, and two pounds of hard candy.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Newsmagazine
Broadcast Date: Sept. 17, 1961
Guest(s): John McCallum, Karen McCallum, Roger McCallum, Nathan Phillips
Host: Norman DePoe
Duration: 9:03

Last updated: May 6, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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