At 08:07 this morning, Hawaii residents received the following text:
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
In certain areas the civil defense alarms also went off. Specifically in Aiea and on Kauai some of, not all of, the alarms went off. Did you know what to do? Thank God the alarm was false and an hour later the false alarm was made official by another text and multiple news outlets. Whether someone pressed the wrong button or the civil defense warning system was hacked it is not yet known. But, it did highlight that Hawaii is NOT prepared.
My CRAZY Nuclear Preparedness
Being the crazy person I am, I actually researched what to do in the event of a nuclear threat 6 months ago. I was spurred on by the random nuclear warning testing they had started doing. Hawaii is the only state that has re-instituted any kind of nuclear warning system testing, which has not been used since the Cold War. During the Cold War, drills were regularly practiced and nuclear shelters were in good repair. 6 months ago I entertained the idea of writing a post about nuclear bomb preparedness, but my husband and I thought it might come off as a little too OCD and type A intense for most people. But, after today’s false warning I hope this article is helpful and informative.
Why be prepared?
Lots of people feel that preparedness for a nuclear bomb is unnecessary because a nuclear bomb would likely decimate and kill most of the population anyway. This is NOT true. ONLY if you are in the immediate blast radius, within 1 mile, will you likely perish quickly. Therefore, hundreds of thousands of people will not be within that blast radius and will survive. They estimate up to 90% of Hawaii’s population would survive a direct nuclear blast. You should definitely try to optimize your ability to minimize your radiation exposure and your chance of survival. For the people who survive the blast avoiding radiation sickness will be essential!
How to prepare
- Know where to go
- Food and water
- Nuclear fall-out precautions
- Stay away from windows and doors
- Remember the EMP
1. Where to go
Hawaii’s nuclear fallout shelters are no longer viable because they have been out of use for decades. The ideal shelter would of course be underground. There is a whole compound at Diamond Head for the military and civil defense, but of course they do not have the capacity to take in civilians. Living in Hawaii there are not a lot of basements, so you are very fortunate indeed if you have a basement or live near one. The next best shelter would be a concrete and steel building. In a multiple story building get to the middle of the lowest level. Even wood buildings would provide some protection from the initial blast.
The phone book lists the nearest shelters and it will most likely be the local school. Most Hawaii public elementary schools are constructed from concrete, which would provide the most readily available shelters. The reason that the state has been instructing a shelter in place policy is because of the short notice time for a nuclear weapons attack. Hawaii would have approximately 15 minutes from notification to detonation for a North Korean missile. Maybe even less time depending on how long it takes them to confirm that a bomb is in fact coming our way. It is a bomb flying in the air at incredibly fast speeds, it’s unrealistic to think you could really outrun it. Thus, most people would be safest to stay where they are. The worst place to be would be outside during a detonation. The Hawaii Emergency Management stance has been get inside and stay inside.
2. Food and Water
The most essential and ONLY thing to think of having with you is food and water. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency recommends 2 weeks (14 days) worth of food and water. There are emergency food kits available for sale at Costco, Wal-Mart, SAM’s Club, AMAZON, etc. My parents on Kauai have MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) from the military. Calculate enough for your whole family for 14 days, plus extra in case. Below are some options that are exactly like my own portable emergency food bucket with free shipping straight to your door from Amazon.
I highly recommend getting some kind of emergency food and water kit together. Our all in one kit has 30 days worth of food for 4 people and comes in a plastic bucket with a handle. My parents have their 3,000 calorie MREs.
Water is the other essential. Unless you’ve been through a hurricane or other natural disaster, like those of us from Kauai, you never truly appreciate safe running water for the miracle that it is. After a nuclear explosion there will be no running water because you need electricity and power to pump it into your house. Not to mention that you might not want to drink water that is contaminated by nuclear waste/fall out. Fill up a tub or large plastic trash can. Yes, that is how much water you need! You need it to drink, fill the tanks in the toilet, to cook with, to brush your teeth, etc.
3. Nuclear Fallout Precautions
Remember, it is recommended that you should shelter in place in Hawaii for up to 14 days after the initial blast unless you are in a very poor wooden structure. If you are in a poor shelter, like a wooden, above ground, one story building, then you may want to move to a concrete, metal, or underground shelter ONLY if one is within 15 minutes from your location walking distance immediately after the bomb goes off, as it will take about 15 minutes for all the nuclear waste to fall back down from the sky. Unfortunately this doesn’t take into account the possibility that more than one nuclear missile could go off, hence why the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency recommends staying in place and sheltering where you are at.
Fortunately, because Hawaii is a bunch of islands the nuclear fallout would dissipate more quickly than on the mainland. Remember that the ash and dust that falls from the sky after a nuclear bomb is radioactive. Radioactivity is not visible, you will just feel the after effects once you start getting sick with radiation poisoning. If you get enough exposure immediately then you will get radiation sickness. You can read more about radiation sickness here on the CDC website. Initial symptoms would include nausea, vomiting, inability to eat. Burns would occur on exposed skin. Consequences from radiation exposure can occur years later, like with cancers. You want to limit radiation exposure to as little as possible. Decontaminate by taking off contaminated clothes and washing exposed skin with water.
4. Stay Away From Windows and Doors
Do NOT look at the blast because the light a nuclear bomb generates is a the sun and it will burn your retinas and damage your vision, potentially permanently. Do not stay by a door or window at all because the impact pulse from the blast will blow out all the glass and the little glass shards will become projectile flying hazards.
5. Remember the EMP
The electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from a nuclear blast will be felt farther out than the blast radius and will disrupt electronic devices. You can try to place electronics into a sealed metal container to try protect them, but there are no guarantees this will work and it will also depend on how far you are from the bomb’s detonation. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency recommends getting a radio. We have one with a hand crank for power so it can run without batteries.
Below are some EMP protector bag options.
Be careful and wary about radiation detoxification kits because commercially available kits are for radioactive iodine poisoning and decontamination only; where nuclear bombs are more likely to be plutonium and hydrogen bombs.
My False Nuclear Alarm Story
When I received the false alarm notification via text message this morning I was shaking and a billion thoughts were racing through my mind. I was mostly thinking about the health and safety of my 2 children. I worried about the nuclear bomb preparedness for rest of my family, friends, and loved ones. Because I had actually thought and somewhat prepared for this, I immediately called my husband, who was at work, and then got into the car with my 2 kids. We brought along with us 30 days worth of food supplies for 6 people, which conveniently comes in a large sealed bucket that I purchased specifically for this situation or for a hurricane. I drove 2 minutes to the University of Hawaii Manoa campus and proceeded to the buildings that I had researched and knew had basements.
Of course the largest problem was that it was a Saturday morning and all the buildings on campus were locked, along with the actual designated fall out shelters. Even the UH maintenance guys didn’t have access. Bilger Hall has a bomb shelter that was locked. So, the kids and I camped out in a concrete classroom with a professor and a bunch of other college kids. Luckily, they had a large water dispenser and lots of 5 gallon water containers in the room. With my food bucket I felt good about having enough food and water. So, I definitely need to get a better shelter plan and my experience definitely indicates that UH needs to beef up its nuclear bomb preparedness.
CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response. https://www.cdc.gov/cdcgrandrounds/archives/2010/03-March.htm https://emergency.cdc.gov/radiation/
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency http://dod.hawaii.gov/hiema/what-to-do-in-case-of-nuclear-attack/
US Environmental Protection Agency https://www.epa.gov/radiation
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