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Be Prepared to Shelter in Place if Nuclear Attack Occurs

More than 90 percent of Oahu’s population likely would survive the initial blast of a nuclear attack by North Korea.

Hawaii (5)1
(TNS) - Question: I keep hearing about how we need to be prepared for a potential nuclear attack by North Korea. They say “know where to go,” but I don’t know where to go! Are there shelters? If so, how do I find out which one?

Answer: No, there are no public nuclear blast or fallout shelters designated in Hawaii, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, a division of the state Department of Defense.

The agency’s recent PSA, which advises “know where to go, know what to do and when to do it,” gives listeners and viewers general information about how to prepare for any potential disaster, such as having 14 days’ worth of food and water on hand.

Specific safety advice varies according to the type of disaster, be it a natural event like a hurricane or tsunami or a man-made catastrophe like a terrorist or nuclear attack.

You can find details about how to respond to various scenarios at Since you and several other readers have specifically asked about a potential nuclear attack, we’ll summarize some of the instructions here. Emergency officials emphasize that they are publicizing this information only as a precaution.

  • As mentioned, there are no public nuclear shelters. The short warning time of an incoming missile — 12 to 15 minutes — wouldn’t give people much time to get there anyway. A warning siren would sound in the event of a missile launch. If the siren sounds, get indoors immediately and stay there. This is known as shelter-in-place, and would apply to homes, schools, offices, malls and hotels — wherever people happen to be at the time.
  • The sturdier the building, the better. If you are outdoors and can’t get home, go inside the closest available structure, preferably concrete, such as a commercial building or parking structure.

  • Be prepared to stay inside for two weeks or until you are informed that it is safe to leave, whichever comes first. It could take “as little as a few hours or as long as 14 days” for authorities to assess residual radiation and fallout if there was a nuclear attack, according to the EMA.

  • Keep a battery-operated radio in your disaster kit so you can listen to AM/FM radio for official information in the event of an attack. Cellphone, TV and internet services likely would be severely disrupted.

Q: Could anybody survive?

A: Yes, more than 90 percent of Oahu’s population likely would survive the initial blast of a nuclear attack by North Korea, according to the EMA.

The agency bases its estimates on what is known about North Korean nuclear weapon technology. Current information suggests an explosion would be less than 6 miles in diameter, limiting the direct casualties. The risk to survivors would come from residual radiation (fallout) and the disruption of infrastructure, communications, transportation and other aspects of island life, according to the EMA.

It’s an unsettling scenario, to be sure, but essential to be prepared.

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