The video opens on an empty city street with the sound of sirens and an eerie message.
“So there’s been a nuclear attack,” the narrator says, by way of introduction. “Don’t ask me how or why. Just know that the big one has hit. OK? So what do we do?”
The video recommends people get inside a building, stay away from windows, and check local media for updates.
Christina Farrell, the first deputy commissioner in the Office of Emergency Management, says the PSA was released because of questions the agency has been getting at events and training — but not due to an elevated risk of nuclear attack.
“This is one threat that, understandably, New Yorkers feel the least prepared for and have asked us about,” she said. “It’s a very low probability that something like this would happen in New York.”
Farrell says the threat of nuclear disaster is small, and includes incidents far smaller and less apocalyptic than nuclear warfare.
“There are different materials that travel throughout the city and throughout the country and world,” she said. “Things can happen. It doesn’t have to be, you know, a large bomb that would take out the center of the city or something.”
She emphasized that these accidents or unadvertent releases are very rare and haven’t happened in New York City, adding that the city does not have any operational nuclear power plants. One of the primary drivers for decommissioning the Indian Point nuclear plant in Buchanan, NY was its proximity to the city.
Farrell cautioned people not to get anxious.
“This shouldn’t change anyone’s routines,” she said. “We didn’t release [the video] because of any specific threat. It’s one of many tools we use to prepare New Yorkers.”
Farrell says fires and storms pose a far greater risk to city residents, and recommended people sign up for alerts from the Notify NYC app to boost emergency preparedness.