File photo of a fireball
With NASA reporting a "potentially hazardous" asteroid nearly half-a-mile wide possibly heading toward earth, and some upstate New Yorkers claiming they experienced a loud boom and a bright light in the sky last night caused by a meteor, a doctors' organization is offering some timely advice:

Just as when the American populace first prepared for the possibility of a nuclear blast, a person's best option for surviving a meteor strike is the same "duck and cover" created during the 1940s and '50s when nuclear weaponry was still in its infancy.

The warning comes from Physicians for Civil Defense, which issued a statement recently during a meeting of the Emergency Management Agency of Utah.

"All Americans, starting with first responders and emergency managers, need to know this basic life-saving principle: 'Drop and cover if you see a sudden very bright light,'" said the statement from the organization's spokeswoman, Jane Orient, M.D.

"Such a light will be followed by a deadly shock wave within seconds. Those who drop and cover will probably survive. Those who do not are likely to be killed or suffer severe injury."

The organization's goal is to save lives of first responders in the event of disasters, "especially terrorist attacks using dirty bombs or nuclear weapons."

Members note that "in today's unprepared America, the only feasible plan that could save millions of lives on very short notice is the Nuclear War Survival Skills plan, using simple, government-developed and tested technology."

Those three-plan components include "Drop and Cover," "Shelter in Place," and "Radiologic Monitoring."

The first features the 1951 video on how to drop and cover, protecting one's head, neck and face, from the impact of an energy blast from a bomb, or a meteor strike.

Featured is a question-and-answer session between Orient and civil defense expert Steve Jones, who said, "Like everyone else, I was taught to ridicule 'duck and cover.'"

But, he said, "If you examine the blast area of a nuclear device, there is a zone half a mile wide or a mile wide, depending on the size of the blast, where anyone standing would be killed, but persons who were lying down were almost guaranteed to live. Since lying down makes a difference between living and dying or receiving a serious injury, it is a very powerful lifesaving maneuver. It takes eight times the force to move a person if he is lying down rather than standing up. Of course the military taught this for years in combat situations. World War II vets came back and if they heard an explosion or saw a flash they hit the dirt. They were embarrassed because they would be walking down a city street and suddenly hit the ground."

On the issue of sheltering in place, the doctors' organization lists priorities: Food and water "IMMEDIATELY!"

The guide, specifically addressing the possibility of a bomb, also speaks of the material needed to protect from radiation.

The radiological monitoring step also is addressed for a bomb, and explains how to build more secure locations and monitor radiation that does invade.

On the issue of a meteor strike, Orient's statement noted that, "During the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor explosion, a fourth-grade teacher in Chelyabinsk, Yulia Karbysheva, saved 44 children from potentially life-threatening window glass cuts by ordering them to hide under their desks when she saw the flash.

"Ms. Karbysheva, who remained standing, was seriously lacerated when the explosion's blast wave arrived and windows shattered. A tendon in her arm was severed, but not one of her students suffered a cut."

"Large meteor strikes are sufficiently probable that both the U.S. and Russia are working on ways to divert them. In 1908 a meteor strike flattened 800 square miles of Siberian forest," Orient said.

And stay calm, the doctors say.

"Mass bombing of London by Hitler in World War II created a panic that did more damage than the bombs in the early days," the site explains. "Once the public got used to the bombings the panic ended along with damage caused by it. Likewise the scientists that brought in the nuclear age understood that panic caused by a nuclear bomb would do more damage than the bomb itself."

While there was no reported damage, there was a bright flash that illuminated the skies over Providence, R.I., on Sunday evening.

The local ABC affiliate reported, "A mysterious light flashed through the sky Sunday night, maybe you saw it? Reports of a green and white, sparking light came pouring in across New England, but what exactly was that bright flash?

"Wrigley Bynum said his friends called him crazy, 'I had people telling me, oh, you're nuts!' He wasn't sure what he saw from his Charlestown deck flying through the sky. He goes on, 'I thought maybe it was an aircraft, a shooting star at first, it didn't burn out at first like a shooting star, so then thought maybe it was a plane or something going down but it didn't have flames just a long tail.'"

In that incident, Michael Umbricht of the Ladd Observatory at Brown University explained it was a lone meteor, the type called a fireball because of its brilliance, that came into the atmosphere.

Orient told WND that the message is critical, whether an explosion comes from a bomb, a meteor's shock wave, even an earthquake.

"We're very interested in saving lives," she said. "Nobody knows [this information]." It's been forgotten and the civil defense experts have retired, or died.This [defensive maneuver] could save the most number of lives. ... If you see a flash there are just seconds."