Hawaii False Alarm Missile Attack Caused Panic — NOT!

Popular beliefs and disaster research conflict.

by Eric Holdeman / February 4, 2019

If you asked 100 people here in the lower 48 states if people were in a state of panic in Hawaii the day the false "inbound missile" warning was sent — I think 100 percent would say yes. Most of that comes from images on the media of people running from the beaches, which is the image that sticks in my mind.

Enter disaster research, see “Death was not in the agenda for the day”: Emotions, behavioral reactions, and perceptions in response to the 2018 Hawaii Wireless Emergency Alert.

This is just the brief extract of the study, but I noted that people were "milling" following the attack, trying to find out from others what their perceptions and actions were and would be.

I have one more warning blog post to do today about the communications technology of warning. I think we spend a bit too much time on the method and not enough time thinking about the messages that will be transmitted. Or, being sure that we have a rock-solid procedure in place for sending warnings. 

I picked up Sarah E. DeYoung's link above off a tweet she posted.