Thursday 28 January 2016

Emergency Supplies (1979)

The 1970s was a decade of social tension. Environmental disaster, terrorism, war and foreigners were a constant threat. Many citizens and some of their friends expressed concern about what would happen if the worst came to the worst.

In 1979 the government declared that it was fully prepared for any eventuality. A series of posters and leaflets introduced Pre-Emergency Services which had been set up to supply citizens with "essential survival items" including ping pong balls, rubber bands (see poster above), furniture polish, drinks coasters and crocheted toilet-roll covers that looked like Georgian ladies.

The minister for internal affairs wrote in one leaflet: "Our new emergency initiatives clearly demonstrate how seriously we take the welfare of British citizens. Should an unexpected catastrophe occur, such as the one which may or may not take place later this year on October 14th, we guarantee that working families and those most in need, such as table tennis players, will be the first to receive the emergency supplies listed in this leaflet." 

To further demonstrate his commitment to the people, the prime minister himself offered to forgo his own rubber band and drinks coaster rations saying that "the knowledge that the people of the United Kingdom are safe is all the comfort I need and I will gladly make do with less vital resources", which were later revealed to be water purification tablets, dried food goods and medical supplies.

For more archival documents about emergency procedures read this Public Information Booklet, this civil defence poster and take note of this new emergency services telephone number.


  1. I still use rubber bands in weasel traps and when hunting other small mammals for pelts etc.

    1. I prefer reinforced twine held under tension. Weasels can sometimes chew through the rubber band and swallow part of it, leading to choking which floods the body with adrenaline and absolutely ruins the flavour.

  2. David Bowie wrote a song called rubber band...

  3. Is it true that the NERB (National Emergency Rubber Band) contract was awarded to a dodgy company owned in part by the Minister for Hedges, and were of such poor quality that they perished quicker than the Brenchley family in their infamous sulphuric acid accident?