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Second Scandinavian State Mulls Reviving Cold War-Style 'Preparedness Campaign'

Following the distribution of Cold War-style pamphlets about managing crisis and war to nearly 5 million Swedish households, a measure unparalleled since 1961, Norway has decided to follow in its neighbor's footsteps and is currently working on a new nationwide preparedness campaign.

The Norwegian Directorate for Social Security and Preparedness (DSB) is currently working out new advice for Norwegians in cooperation with Oslo Municipality. A new "self-preparedness campaign" will start this fall, the daily newspaper Aftenposten reported.

While the Swedish information campaign focuses on war and crisis, the Norwegian one will phrase the dangers in a different way and say little about war and terrorism.

"Rather, we have more emphasis on common crisis scenarios, compared with the Swedish brochure. We are concerned with climate-related events, not least to be prepared to handle 72-hour power outages. We notice that the message in the Swedish brochure is nuanced in a different way. We see it a bit differently," DSB head Cecilie Daae told Aftenposten.

According to Daae, the general level of preparedness in Norway is too low.

"People expect everything to be alright and live according to the 'just in time' principle. They are doing what they need for the here and now," Daae explained.

While Daae called a blackout "most demanding," a DSB poll has indicated that Norwegians are far more concerned about terrorist attacks and cyberattacks on key infrastructure points than about power outages or supply crises. According to the survey, most Norwegians (93 percent) do have candles and flashlights on hand, but only half have power banks that can be used to charge mobiles, compared to only one in five who has drinking water in stock. People living in the countryside tend to be more prepared compared with city dwellers.

According to Daae, specific advice will be given on a number of topics, ranging from whatever food should be held in stock to the distribution of iodine tablets. Unlike Sweden, though, there will be no nationwide distribution in Norway. Nor will the Norwegian information campaign focus on discerning "fake news," as is the case with the Swedish pamphlets.

READ MORE: 'Historic Moment' as Sweden Remilitarizes Its Largest Baltic Island

"We will provide concrete advice on what to do when it comes to water, food, medication and how to manage without power for 72 hours. We will use social media to get the message across," Daae explained.

Unlike Sweden, where the necessity of reissuing updated Cold War-era pamphlets was attributed to the deteriorating security situation, Daae ascribed the "self-preparedness" campaign to "increasingly extreme weather" that demands increased readiness measures.

​By the beginning of June, 4.8 million Swedish households will get a copy of the new 19-page pamphlet "If Crisis or War Comes" with guidelines to teach people how to behave in crisis situations, during terror attacks or in the event of war after a 57-year-long break. Last time a nationwide distribution of war preparedness brochures occurred in 1961.

In addition to a checklist of what you should have at home (such as canned foods, sleeping bags, cash, water and first aid kit), the Swedish brochure provides advice on arming the population against disinformation campaigns and enemy propaganda.

​"If Sweden is being attacked by another country, we will never give up. All messages that the resistance should cease are false," the pamphlet stresses.

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