From: Super secret hidden base
Gotta love all the old informational film shorts of the 50's in the new atomic age. They were, (and remain) a perineal favorite of various Industrial/goth/alt-music dance bars where they were played on screens or against a black wall while the music played. They were as much fun to watch as it was to people watch.
ATOMIC BLAST INCOMING! DUCK N COVER UNDER YOUR SCHOOL DESK! YOU'LL BE SAFE!!!
Growing up in Houston in the late 60s and 70s we actually got to do some of those drills...being that Texas is continually 10 years behind the rest of the country culturally, well except for Arkansas and Mississippi which are 20 years behind.
When I was about 12 (by which time we had pretty much stopped doing the drills), I asked my mom, a school teacher, why we had to do them in the first place because it was silly to think that a desk would provide any protection. Her answer was that it was important in keeping the children calm and under control to have something to do, a job if you will, in the event of an attack. By having something to do they were less likely to panic and do something that would put themselves or others in danger....which seemed a pretty good answer to me.
Also, another thought, although I am not a nuclear physicist, I would speculate that:
1. ducking and
2. convering with anything available
is better than doing nothing. In a nuclear blast you will probaby get three waves of energy that radiate outward from ground zero. The waves are:
1. radioactive particles (alpha, beta, gamma)
3. wind (shock wave)
Each wave carries its unique hazards. Ducking and covering will help considerably though with the first wave of energy. The radioactive particles will traveling in a straight line outward from the blast and the smaller the surface area you present to those particles the less radiation exposure you will recieve. Also, Alpha particles (the most dangerous) are easily stopped by just about any reasonably thick solid material (brick, wood, metal) and beta particle exposure may be drastically reduced. Against gamma rays you're largely screwed. However, it is conceivable that someone crouched behind a low brick wall would receive orders of magnitude less initial exposure than someone standing up.
After the initial blast its about getting to a safe distance and not breathing the dust particles from debris (which will contain alpha and beta particles).
The wave of heat (infra-red radiation) would behave largely in the same manner. Heat beind transmitted by convection or radiation is going to travel mostly outward in a straight line. It would be hot but anything you can do to shield yourself from the initial wave, would help greatly, again even behind a desk or low wall would help.
The shock wave, if you are close enough, is primarily a concern because of flying debry so again any sort of barrier would probably help.
SO REMEMBER KIDDIES, IN THE NEXT NUCLEAR ATTACK DUCK AND COVER.
Artwork graciously provided by Dixie