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Hawai‘i Completes First Attack Warning Test Since Cold War

December 1, 2017, 12:25 PM HST (Updated December 6, 2017, 12:13 PM)
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The scheduled siren sounding by the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency occurred today, Dec. 1, 2017,  at 11:45 a.m.

A one-minute Attention Alert Signal (steady tone) sounded followed by a one-minute Attack Warning Signal (wailing tone).

This was the first month for the reinstatement of the Attack Warning Signal testing since testing ended in the mid-1990s after the waning of the Cold War in the 1980s.

There was no exercise or drill on this day.

As tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continue to escalate, Hawai‘i has resumed the monthly tests at 11:45 a.m. on the first business day of every month to inform its residents of an impending nuclear attack.

The Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency said in a news release on Monday that the monthly tests are intended to update the population on what the agency is doing to “prepare our state for a nuclear threat.”

However, authorities say the possibility of a North Korean nuclear strike is unlikely.

For several weeks, state officials have been discussing their plans to sound the Attack Warning Tone—even before North Korea fired a ballistic missile at dawn on Wednesday.

In July of this year, after North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that appeared capable of reaching Hawaii and Alaska—Hawai‘i’s emergency management authorities released guidelines on how to survive a nuclear detonation (page 9), offering advice to seek shelter in a blast-resistant structure within minutes.

On Nov. 8, Hawaii’s emergency management agency released a public service announcement featuring its administrator, Vern Miyagi, speaking on the importance of the testing.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, Gov. David Ige, Director of Emergency Management Major General Arthur J. Logan and Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi discussed the need for the Attack Warning Signal, how it will be used and what their agencies are doing to prepare our state for a nuclear threat.

Earlier in the week, George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, reassured island visitors. “It is imperative to remember that the threat of a missile attack against Hawai‘i by North Korea is a highly unlikely possibility, according to the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency.”

Richard Rapoza, the spokesman for the emergency management agency, said state authorities thought a missile attack was “extremely unlikely,” but frequent town hall meetings were being held to reacquaint people with the important role of the siren.

“So now because of the North Korea threat we are starting to use it again,” he said.

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The Attention Alert Signal informs residents to turn on a radio or television for information and instruction for an impending emergency, or if in a coastal inundation area, evacuate to higher grounds.

The Attack Warning Signal directs residents to seek immediate shelter and remain sheltered in place until an all-clear message is broadcasted over radio or television.

Tests of the outdoor warning sirens and the Emergency Alert System are conducted simultaneously, normally on the first working day of the month, in cooperation with Hawai‘i’s broadcast industry. Emergency management and disaster preparedness information is located at the front section of telephone directories in all counties.

The siren, if used as an actual warning, would signal to people that they should immediately seek shelter.

EMERGENCY KIT RECOMMENDATIONS
14 days of food, water and medications:

One gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation.

Nonperishable food.

Manual can opener.

Battery-powered or solar-powered radio with extra batteries.

Important documents in a sealed plastic bag:

Identification.

Debit and credit card information.

Banking information.

All insurance information.

Healthcare directives.

Copy of property title/deeds.

Copy of prescriptions and dosages.

Phone list of family and important numbers.

Flashlight and extra batteries.

Plastic bag and ties for personal sanitation.

Matches, blankets and tarps.

First-aid kit.

Whistle to signal for help.

Personal hygiene items:

Toothbrush and toothpaste.

Soap and shampoo.

Antibacterial hand wipes.

Toilet paper.

Deodorant.

Eyecare (if needed).

Moisturizing lotion.

Extra cash in small bills.

Contact your emergency management/county civil defense agency to report siren operation issues:

Hawai‘i County: (808) 935-0031
Maui County: (808) 270-7285
City and County of Honolulu: (808) 723-8960
Kaua‘i County: (808) 241-1800

Debra Lordan
Debra Lordan has been a writer and website editor for Pacific Media Group since 2014. She has 39-plus years of experience in the publishing industry, serving in a variety of positions—from photographer, graphic designer and communications director to writer, editor and general manager—at scientific research centers, in book publishing, at a weekly newspaper and various magazines. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado.
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