Survival Advice for Air Raids

Written by Scarlett Adams, 1940


Here in London and the areas surrounding, air raids and bombings are a constant threat. We have had some minor bombings here, however city officials believe there are more destructive ones to come. Other cities, such as Liverpool, Manchester, and Southampton are also at risk. Already, thousands of civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands of homes have been destroyed. Even though you can do nothing to prevent the bombings from occurring, there are several steps that you can take to make yourself safer during an air raid.

How to Stay Safe

Step One: Be sure to remember that it is dangerous to be outside during an air raid. You might be curious to see what is going on, but it is unsafe to be outside. Anti-aircraft shells are designed to explode in the air, and the shrapnel will fall to the ground below. Even if the raid is taking place in a city nearby, shell fragments can fall miles away from the action. Machine gun bullets being fired from airplanes will also fall to the ground. Try to take shelter as soon as possible.

Step Two: It is essential that you find some sort of shelter in the event of an air raid. Throughout London, there are eight underground deep-level shelters. If you are taking shelter in a home, try to find the safest room with the least amount of windows, such as a basement. Broken glass fragments can cause serious injuries and wounds. If there is no room in your shelter house with minimal windows, try covering the inside of the window with a light colored cloth to prevent the glass from flying into the refuge room.

Step Three: If you can't reach shelter before the attack begins, you should try to stay as calm as possible. Avoid bodily contact with a solid wall, as you could be injured from the shock of the impact. Also, open your mouth slightly to stop your lungs from exploding due the blast. While splinters from a bomb fly upwards, the safest place to be is the ground. Lie flat on your face and support your head in your arms. If you can't lie down all the way, the next safest position is to sit, however lying down is recommended.

Step Four: Be aware of the gunned passengers riding in a bomber. Most passengers are equipped with machine guns, but to hit targets effectively the airplanes must not be flying at an altitude greater than about fifty feet above ground level. Therefore, this form of attack is rare among large cities with tall buildings like London, however this precaution should always be taken. A machine gun can fire once every ten to twelve seconds. If the plane is flying at 200 miles per hour, a bullet will be fired around every ten yards. Just know that most bullets will not be able to penetrate brick walls, so those in brick homes are safe if they keep away from windows. Likewise, keep out of sight of attacking planes, do not congregate in large groups, and take cover if possible.