From the end of World War II until the early 1990s, the world faced a period of sensitive international pressure and opposition called the Cold War. The United States and the non-communist world faced unexpected circumstances, which they viewed as a threat to world peace order, democracy, and security. These threats included:

  • Soviet growth of atomic weapons

  • Soviets showing off their newly created nuclear weaponry

  • Soviets encompassing their political ideology throughout Europe and elsewhere

  • The Federal Civil Defense Administration

The federal government responded to a frenzied public by creating the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA), later referred to as the Office of Civil Defense, to educate the public on how to prepare for a nuclear attack. The Eisenhower administration dispersed information to educate Americans about how they could safeguard themselves. Survival literature was written chiefly for a suburban audience, since it was presumed that cities would be targets and most urban dwellers would not live through the attack. Officials at the FCDA stated that if people were educated and prepared for a nuclear attack, they could survive an atomic bomb and evade the death and annihilation that had occurred at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

What is a fallout shelter?

A fallout shelter is a civil defense measure created to reduce casualties in a nuclear war. It is intended to allow those inside to escape exposure to harmful fallout from a nuclear blast and its radiation debris until radioactivity has dropped to a safer level. A basic fallout shelter contains shielding that reduces gamma-ray exposure.