False missile alert highlights importance of preparedness

| January 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

“All residents and visitors must immediately seek shelter in a building or structure. Once the (attack warning) sirens sound, residents and visitors will have less than 12 to 15 minutes before missile impact.”
— Hawaii Emergency Management Agency

Karen A. Iwamoto
Staff Writer

At 8:07 a.m. on Jan. 13, an erroneous text alert sent to cellphones statewide, warning that an incoming missile was headed to Hawaii.

It took another 38 minutes to send out a text confirming that the original alert had been a false alarm and that no missile was inbounded toward the state.

During that time, residents and visitors rushed to get home or find nearby shelter, with local media reporting cancellations of numerous events and motorists running red lights and climbing down manholes to reach safety.

While the fallout from the false alarm continues, there’s also the question of individual readiness. Many in the community want to know what to do in the case of an actual attack.

Residents and visitors in Hawaii receive alerts from the state emergency management agency on the morning of Jan. 13, 2018.

Residents and visitors in Hawaii receive alerts from the state emergency management agency on the morning of Jan. 13, 2018.

Information is available by visiting www.dod.hawaii.gov/hiema/ and clicking on the drop down menu labeled “nuclear attack.”

It notes, “All residents and visitors must immediately seek shelter in a building or

Residents and visitors in Hawaii receive alerts from the state emergency management agency on the morning of Jan. 13, 2018.

In another 38 minutes, residents and visitors in Hawaii receive an alert that the message was a mistake.

structure. Once the (attack warning) sirens sound, residents and visitors will have less than 12 to 15 minutes before missile impact.”

It also states, “There are currently no designated shelters in the State of Hawaii at this time. The short warning time (12 to 15 minutes) would not allow for residents or visitors to locate such a shelter in advance of missile impact.”

The Hawaii state Department of Education has issued a letter to parents, which may also be viewed on its website –hawaiipublicschools.org –that reminds parents they should not pick up their children at school should an attack occur during school hours. Students and faculty will be sheltering in place, and parents are advised to shelter in place where they are.

Private schools have similar guidance, and parents of children enrolled in private schools are advised to check with school officials there.

Finally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has the following guidelines:

  • Build an emergency supply kit with enough food, water and first aid supplies to last two weeks.
  • Make a family emergency plan.
  • Expect to stay inside for at least 24 hours unless instructed otherwise by authorities.
  • Do not look at the flash or fireball as it could blind you.
  • If you were outside after the blast, get clean as soon as possible to remove radioactive material.
  • When possible, take a shower with lots of soap and water.
  • Do not use hair conditioner as this could bind radioactive material to your hair.
  • Keep listening to radio and television news about what to do and places to avoid.

— Community Information Exchange

Anyone with questions or concerns regarding alerts is invited to attend the CIE on Jan. 31 at 9 a.m., at the Nehelani, Schofield Barracks. Army and community leaders will be on hand to answer questions.

— Resources

Review the following websites for more details:

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Category: News, Safety

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