(NEW YORK) — Hawaii is reinstating a statewide nuclear attack warning signal in December to prepare for a potential attack from North Korea.
The alarm, which has not been used since the Cold War will be reinstated on Dec. 1 as part of a ballistic missile preparedness program, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA).
Residents are instructed to immediately “Get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned” when they hear the siren. Alerts will be sent to resident’s phones and broadcast on television and radio.
“When [HI-EMA] started this campaign there were concerns we would scare the public. What we are putting out is information based on the best science that we have on what would happen if that weapon hit Honolulu or the assumed targets,” said HI-EMA Administrator Vern Miyagi during an emergency preparedness presentation.
Since the launch to impact warning time for Hawaii is only fifteen minutes or less, residents are advised to have a designated place to go for shelter. “There will be no time to call our loved ones, pick up our kids, and find a designated shelter. We should all prepare and exercise a plan ahead of time so we can take some comfort in knowing what our loved ones are doing,” said Miyagi in an interview for the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
Although the US has conducted successful missile interception tests, there is no guarantee that the Navy will successfully detect and intercept a target, HI-EMA warns.
Kim Jong Un has not directly threatened Hawaii, but missile test launches over Japan and increased tension between North Korea and the United States prompted officials to address the issue of preparedness.
An HI-EMA FAQ sheet explains that based on the estimated size of North Korean missile technology, there could be anywhere from 50,000 to 120,000 burn casualties and nearly 18,000 fatalities if an attack were to occur.
After the blast, residents would have to stay sheltered in place until the HI-EMA has fully assessed the radiation and fallout, which could take a few hours or as long as fourteen days, the agency says on its website.
State officials have been holding town halls to address questions from residents.
Hawaii currently has an alert warning signal for natural threats, like hurricanes and tsunamis. Both this signal and the nuclear threat alert will be tested on the first business day of each month.
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