Duck and Cover

Cue Card preview image

General Information

Archival Film
Event Date:
Air/Publish Date:
Resource Type:
Video Film
Copyright Date:
Clip Length:


An official Civil Defense film features a turtle who tells kids how to avoid getting hurt in the event of an atomic bomb.



"Duck and Cover." Archival Film. 1 Jan. 1951. NBC Learn. Web. 18 January 2015.


(1951, January 1). Duck and Cover. [Newsreel]. Archival Film. Retrieved from


"Duck and Cover" Archival Film, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 1951. Accessed Sun Jan 18 2015 from NBC Learn:


Duck and Cover

NARRATOR: Be sure to remember what Bert the turtle just did friends because every one of us must remember to do the same thing, that’s what this film is all about. Duck and Cover.

Hey Bert, come on out and meet all these nice people please… Oh all right we really can’t blame you. You see Bert is a very, very careful fellow. When there is danger this is the way he keeps from getting hurt, sometimes it even saves his life.

That’s why these children are practicing to duck and cover just as you do in your school. We all know the atomic bomb is very dangerous, since it could be used against us, we should get ready for it, just as we would for other dangers that are around us all the time. Fire is a danger; it can burn whole buildings if someone is careless. But we are ready for fire, we have a fine fire department to put out the fire, and you have fire drills in your school, so you’ll know what to do. Automobiles can cause dangerous too, they sometimes cause bad accidents, but we are ready, we have safety rules and car drivers and people who are walking must obey. Now we must be ready for a new danger, the atomic bomb.

First you have to know what happens when an atomic bomb explodes. You’ll know when it comes, we hope it never comes, but we must be ready. It will look something like this, there will be a bright flash, brighter than the sun, brighter than anything you have ever seen.

If you are not ready, if you do not know what to do, then it could hurt you in different ways. It could knock you down hard, or throw you against a tree or a wall. It is such a big explosion it can knock down walls and knock sign boards over or break windows all over town. But if you duck and cover like Bert, it will be much safer. You know how bad sun burn can feel, the atomic bomb flash could burn you worse than a terrible sun burn, especially where you are not covered. Now you and I do not have shells to climb into like Bert the turtle so we have to cover up in our own way.

First you duck, then you cover, and very tightly you cover the back of your neck and your face. Duck and cover underneath and table or desk, or anything else nearby. In Betty’s school they are talking about the atomic bomb too. Betty is asking the teacher; “How can we tell when the atomic bomb may explode?” And the teacher is explaining that there are two kinds of attack, “with warning and without warning.” We think most of the time there will be time before the bomb goes off, so there will be time to get into our homes, schools or some other safe place. Our civil defense workers, our men in uniform will do everything they can to warn us before enemy planes could bring a bomb near us. You may be in your schoolyard playing when the signal comes. That signal means to stop whatever you are doing and get to the nearest safe place fast. Always remember, the flash of an atomic bomb can come at any time, no matter where you may be. You might be out playing at home when the warning comes. And be sure to get into the house fast, where your parents have fixed a safe place for you to go. If you are not close to home when you hear the warning, go to the nearest safe cover. Know where you are to go or ask an older person for help.

You know the places marked with the “S” sign… those are safe places to go when you hear the alarm. You will hear it before the bomb explodes. But sometimes, and this is very, very important… sometimes the bomb might explode without any warning. Then the first thing we would know about it would be the flash. That means duck and cover fast, wherever you are, there is no time to look around or wait. Be like Bert, duck and cover and do it fast.

Here is a group of older boys showing what to do if you are not in the classroom. This is what to do if you should be in a corridor. You duck and cover tight against the wall, this way. Remember to keep your face and the back of your neck covered tightly. Try to fall away from windows or doors with glass in them. And if the glass breaks and flies through the air, it won’t cut you. You might be eating your lunch when the flash comes, duck and cover under the table. Then if the explosion makes anything in the room fall down, it won’t fall on you. Getting ready means we will all have to be ready to take care of ourselves. The bomb might explode when there are no grownups near. Paul and Patty know this and they are always ready to take care of themselves. Here they are on their way to school on a beautiful spring day. But no matter where they are or what they do, they always try to remember if the atom bomb explodes right then… it’s a bomb duck and cover, Paul and Patty know what to do! Paul covered the back of his head so that he wouldn’t be so that he wouldn’t be burned. And Patty covered herself with the coat she was carrying. They knew how to duck and cover, they acted right away when the flash came. If they had been at this doorway when the bomb blasted, Paul and Patty would have covered this way, like this girl. Heavy doorways are a good way to duck and cover, she will be safer too.

Here’s Tony going to his cub scout meeting. Tony knows the bomb can go off any time of the year day or night. He is ready for it. Duck and cover! That’ a boy Tony! That flash means act fast. Tony knows that it is good to get to any kind of cover. This wall was close by so that’s where he ducked and covered. Tony knew what to do, notice how he keeps from moving and getting up and running, he stays down until he is sure the danger is over. The man helping Tony is a Civil Defense worker; his job is to help protect us if there is danger of the atomic bomb. We must obey the Civil Defense worker.

We need to know how to duck and cover in a school bus, or in any other bus or streetcar. Don’t wait, duck away from the windows fast, the glass may break and fly through the air and cut you. Sundays, holidays, vacation time, we must be ready everyday all the time to do the right thing if the atomic bomb explodes.

Duck and cover! This family knows what to do just as your own family should. They know that even a thin cloth helps protect them. Even a newspaper can save you from a bad burn. But the most important thing of all is to duck and cover yourself, especially where your clothes do not cover you. No matter where we live in the city or the country, we must be ready all of the time for the atomic bomb.

Duck and cover! That’s the first thing to do, duck and cover. The next thing to do after that is to stay covered until the danger is over. Yes, we must all get ready now so we know how to save ourselves if an atomic bomb ever explodes near us. If you do not know just what to do, ask your teacher when this is over. Discuss what you can do in different places if a bomb explodes. Older we help us with what to do as they always do. But there might not be any grownups around when the bomb explodes. Then you are on your own.

BERT: Remember what to do my friends! Now tell me right out loud, what are you supposed to do when you see the flash?

KIDS: Duck and Cover!