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“Ready America” is the U.S. government’s website containing valuable information about how to protect yourself and your family in the event of an emergency.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail containing some of the illustrations used in the government’s literature, along with some alternate interpretations of what those graphics might mean. I assure you that these drawings are actually used in the instructional materials you can download here. They are apparently derived from the old post-World War II “duck and cover” campaigns.

As the e-mail I received said, however, “[t]he fun thing is that these pictures are so ambiguous they could mean anything! Here are a few guesses about what they mean:”

1. A one-inch thick piece of plywood should be sufficient protection against radiation. Always carry one!

2. Do not drive a station wagon if a power pole is protruding from the hood.

3. If you hear the Backstreet Boys, Michael Bolton or Yanni on the radio, it is a psychological terror attack. Cower in the corner or run away as fast as you can.

4. After exposure to radiation, it is important to consider that you may have mutated to gigantic dimensions so watch your head.

5. If you are sprayed with an unknown substance, stand and contemplate that instead of seeing a doctor.

6. If a door is closed, karate chop it open.

7. Be on the lookout for terrorists with pinkeye and leprosy. Also, they tend to rub their hands together manically.

8. Hurricanes, animal corpses and the biohazard symbol have a lot in common. Think about it.

9. If you spot a terrorist arrow, pin it against the wall with your shoulder.

10. If you spot terrorist activities, blow your anti-terrorism whistle. If you are bald, yell really loudly.

11. Michael Jackson is a terrorist. If you spot this smooth criminal with the dead, dead eyes, run away.

12. The proper way to eliminate smallpox is to wash with soap, water and at least one armless hand.

13. If your lungs and stomach start talking, stand with your arms akimbo until they stop.

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