It is absolutely impossible to mention nuclear war without freaking people out, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to gently prepare for the possibility.
The CDC is holding a session January 16 to discuss personal safety measures and the training of response teams “on a federal, state, and local level to prepare for nuclear detonation.”
The meeting, part of the agency’s monthly Public Health Grand Rounds, will include presentations like “Preparing for the Unthinkable” and “Roadmap to Radiation Preparedness,” and it will be held at the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta. “Grand rounds” are a type of meeting or symposium in which members of a public health community come together to discuss topics of interest or public importance.
This isn’t the first time in recent months that official entities have informed the public about the consequences of a possible nuclear strike.
In August, amid escalating nuclear rhetoric from North Korea, Guam’s Homeland Security and Office of Civil Defense released a two-page fact sheet about what to do in the case of a nuclear event.
And in December, Hawaii started monthly testing of a nuclear warning siren system — the first such tests since the end of the Cold War.
The timing is sure to be uncomfortable for the more anxious among us, since just a few days ago, President Trump continued the nuclear staredown on Twitter.
Plus, the CDC’s online announcement of the meeting is accompanied by a very comforting photograph of a mushroom cloud.
However, the communications director for the Public Health Grand Rounds said the meeting is not out of the ordinary and is not related to recent tensions between the US and North Korea.
“The bottom line is, (this is) not new,” Susan K. Laird said. “The calendar is developed back in February or first part of March, and then the calendar is set up for the following season, which starts in December. This stuff is determined far in advance.”
Kathryn Harben, chief of news media at the CDC, also sought to ease concerns.
“As part of its mission, CDC provides for the common defense of the country against all health threats,” she said. “Planning for the Grand Rounds takes place regularly, and planning for this one began last April.”