New York City’s emergency management office on Wednesday defended its decision to produce a public service announcement advising residents how to survive a nuclear attack after some questioned the advisory’s timing.
The goal of the campaign is to inform the public on ways to stay safe if nuclear weapons were pointed in New York’s direction, a department spokesperson told Reuters.
“There is no direct threat to the city but we felt it was important that we addressed this topic,” said Allison Pennisi, head of public information for NYC Emergency Management.
Released online on Monday, the 90-second video lays out three steps New Yorkers should follow if “the big one has hit,” though officials say the likelihood of an attack is “very low.”
It says people should seek shelter inside a building away from windows, stay inside to reduce exposure to radioactive dust, and follow media for official updates.
“I think this message is a little alarming,” said Lauren Hurwitz, a New York realtor. “Quite frankly, there’s so many other things going on to worry about. And if I have to find cover somewhere, I definitely will.”
Matt Devine, a sales worker at a New York tech startup, said he felt that it was justified, though.
“Just as a precautionary measure more than anything else. Yeah, I’m scared, to tell you the truth. I’m scared. I think about it a lot.”
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters Wednesday that the federal government did not play a role in launching the video, nor does he believe that it was a result of intelligence sharing.
New York Councilmember Joann Ariola, who chairs a committee that oversees the emergency management department, told Reuters the public service announcement was one of many that were created based on issues raised by residents.
At a Tuesday press conference, New York Mayor Eric Adams applauded city officials for being proactive and denied that it was “alarmist.”
The video was released as worries mount about the potential use of nuclear weapons as the West responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Last week former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned that it would be “absurd” to punish a country such as Russia that had expansive nuclear capabilities.
Russian officials have also warned the United States and other countries that oppose the Ukrainian invasion to avoid any actions that would risk nuclear war.