What would you do if you if you got an alert on your phone telling you that a ballistic missile was headed your way? Would you pray? Would you gather the people closest to you and tell them how much you love them while patiently awaiting your fate? Or would you try like hell to find a suitable shelter for you and your family to try to survive the impending cataclysm?
That was the situation the people of Hawaii found themselves in this morning when a button was mistakenly pushed during a shift-change drill at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency command post sending an emergency alert that read:
While the alert was luckily a false alarm, the panic it caused was real . Judging from one video, the subsequent hysteria was enough to send some Hawaiians searching for a storm drain to hide in and protect their children.
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Video From Hawaii Shows Children Being Placed Into Storm Drains After False Alert Sent Out About Missile Strike
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) January 13, 2018
While the instinct to protect your loved ones is completely understandable, storm drains are not suitable shelters as one Twitter commentator pointed out.
That’s how construction workers die from toxic gasses etc. you must be trained and have the proper equipment to enter storm/sanitary vaults.
— Garrett (@G_Olsen90) January 13, 2018
With 40 minutes passing between the initial mistaken alert and an alert informing everyone that no missile was actually about to hit them, plenty of Hawaiians and visiting tourists had a substantial amount of time to digest the threat and try to figure out a response in the absence of any official guidance.
Given the current state of bellicosity between North Korea and the U.S. under the Trump administration, the nuclear threat is higher than it’s been since the height of the Cuban missile crisis. The fact that missiles could hit U.S. territory sooner than anyone in the government could manage to respond is frightening, but when false alarms are sent, the risk of people ignoring a real emergency alert rises and our vulnerability increases.