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In case of nuclear attack, government advises face masks and social distancing in shelters

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Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images

In the case of nuclear war, the federal government wants Americans to know they should social distance and wear face masks when sheltering from nuclear fallout.

Wait, what?

The Ready Campaign, a government program meant to prepare Americans for emergencies, advises Americans to maintain six feet of social distancing and to wear face masks when sheltering indoors to avoid nuclear fallout.

Nuclear fallout is the dangerous aftermath of a nuclear explosion, when the highly toxic radioactive particles expelled into the atmosphere fall back to earth.

According to the Ready Campaign, you should find shelter in the nearest brick or concrete shelter following a nuclear explosion. After removing contaminated clothing and washing areas of unprotected skin, you should protect yourselves from COVID-19.

"Go to the basement or middle of the building. Stay away from the outer walls and roof. Try to maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people who are not part of your household. If possible, wear a mask if you’re sheltering with people who are not a part of your household. Children under two years old, people who have trouble breathing, and those who are unable to remove masks on their own should not wear them," the recommendations say.

"Stay inside for 24 hours unless local authorities provide other instructions. Continue to practice social distancing by wearing a mask and by keeping a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people who not part of your household," they continue.

And in the case that authorities mandate evacuation to an emergency shelter, the government wants you to bring resources to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"If you are told by authorities to evacuate to a public shelter, try to bring items that can help protect yourself and your family from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, cleaning materials, and two masks per person," the government says.

The website indicates that it was last updated on Feb. 25, but was updated in November 2020 to include information related to COVID-19.

What is the background?

The threat of nuclear war has reached its highest point in decades over the weekend after Russian President Vladimir Putin put Russian nuclear forces on high alert.

Russian media outlets, which are propaganda machines for the Kremlin, are also stoking nuclear tensions. One state media anchor even floated nuclear war by wondering why "we need the world if Russia won’t be in it?"

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