Emergency Broadcast System: This Is Only a Test

Admittedly, I’ll date myself by saying this, but I recall as a small child the drills to practice for a nuclear attack and the sirens on the playground. It’s crazy how we grew up with these things and didn’t think about the meaning of them. It’s like fire drills in school…just an excuse to stop class and go outside in the sunshine with your buddies. The Pledge of Allegiance in school? Part of the morning routine done with as much enthusiasm as brushing one’s teeth without considering the oath.

Another fine example of those mindless events are the Emergency Broadcast System annoying horns that cut into our television and radio time and give us a few minutes to go use the restroom (heaven forbid we actually need them some day, they’ll be crying “wolf"). Still, admit it, don’t you sometimes stay to listen…just in case? You were doing just fine and dandy until someone reminded you that it could all go away in a minute’s notice.

The Emergency Broadcast System was put in place in 1963-1997. After that, it became known as the Emergency Alert System. Thankfully, the system has never been used for a national event. It has, however, been used 20,000 times for local emergencies mostly involving weather (amazingly, when I lived in LA in 1987 and we had a 6.0 earthquake, it was not used…however, I watched the newsman on TV dive under his desk during an aftershock and knowing I lived about 30 miles from him, it was coming my way, so technically the big baby was my emergency broadcast system).

Prior to this system, we had CONELRAD (Control Of Electromagnetic Radiation) Doesn’t that give you a warm fuzzy? This was what we had during the height of the Cold War. CONELRAD came to be in 1951-1963. It was felt necessary to have a method (radio and TV) to inform residents of their impending doom. What exactly we were supposed to do if we heard the warning, I’m not sure (hide under our desks at home?)

You know, when I think of it…we haven’t progressed all that much. Wasn’t it just several years ago the Bush "regime" (yeah, that’s the term I use) implemented a wonderful color-wheel of terror warnings and then proceeded to advise us to corner the market on duck tape and plastic sheeting?

I digress. This post is obviously off the usual ghost hunting theories, but by now ya’all know that I follow my whimsy wherever it takes me, but usually it’s on a path that’s paranormal and if growing up in an era of playground siren towers and children ducking under desks doesn’t sound supernatural, then I don’t know what does.

Oh, and by the way, I was the kid in class who refused to get under her desk (next to a row of windows nonetheless). I opted for pulling back the coat closet on wheels and hiding inside of it. Even then I showed debunking skills!


  1. Air raid sirens are one of the creepiest sounds in the world. I live right by Tampa's Macdill AFB and they blast the siren every day at noon. The first time I heard it I was worried they were under attack. They also use it for tornadoes, apparently, which alerted me that one had touched down nearby. Good times.


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