Preparedness & Recovery

Today's Monthly Warning-Siren Test Will be First Since Missile Alert Fiasco

It is only a test, with no exercise or drill accompanying it, and the first one since a false missile alert went out Jan. 13, officials with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday.

by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser / February 1, 2018

(TNS) - Hawaii’s monthly test of its statewide outdoor warning sirens and the live audio broadcast segment of the emergency alert system will resume as scheduled at 11:45 a.m. today.

It is only a test, with no exercise or drill accompanying it, and the first one since a false missile alert went out Jan. 13, officials with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday.

During this monthly test, HI-EMA says all warning sirens will sound a one-minute attention alert signal (steady tone) followed by a one-­minute attack warning signal (wailing tone). The tests are routinely run on the first business day of every month.

The attention alert signal informs residents to turn on a radio or television for information and instruction for an impending emergency, or to evacuate to higher ground if in a coastal inundation area, officials said. The attack warning signal directs residents to seek immediate shelter and remain sheltered in place until an all-clear message is broadcast over radio or television.

Oahu residents in areas surrounding Campbell Industrial Park — including Kalaeloa, Makakilo, Nanakuli, Kapolei, and Ewa Beach — also may hear a “whooping” tone following the siren test. The “whooping” tone is a test of the Hazardous Materials siren that will be activated in the event of a hazmat incident requiring emergency notification of businesses, schools and residents within the vicinity of Campbell Industrial Park.

The outdoor warning sirens are one part of a three-component emergency notification system. A simultaneous test of the emergency alert system is conducted with the siren system, in cooperation with Hawaii’s broadcast industry. In the event of a real emergency, warning sirens and emergency alert broadcasts would be joined by alerts via the wireless emergency alert system, which delivers sound-and-text warnings to mobile telephones and compatible devices.

On Jan. 13, a HI-EMA warning officer mistook a drill for a real emergency and sent out a cellphone alert statewide that warned of an incoming ballistic missile threat. The false alarm caused widespread panic and confusion as the state took 38 minutes to send out a corrected cellphone alert.

HI-EMA officials say that in the event of a real threat, emergency management and disaster preparedness information can be found at the front section of telephone directories in all counties.

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