We are so bombarded with news information about conflicts and threats happening around the world that it’s easy to be complacent as we go about our daily routines thinking ‘’it’ll never happen to me’’. But if you suddenly saw an emergency broadcast warning that your country is definitely going to be the target of a missile strike within minutes, how would and how should you react to stay safe?
This is precisely the situation the people of Hawaii faced recently when they received an emergency text stating:’’ Emergency Alert: BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL’’. As we now know, it was a false alarm caused by someone pressing the wrong button. But between receiving that text and then a second text 38 minutes later informing citizens it was a false alarm, people were taking shelter with a very real immediate fear.
It goes without saying that any nuclear missile or bomb will be deadly upon explosion, not just from the initial blast but the nuclear fallout and radiation that occurs afterwards. There are several countries tense about their proximity to possible missile strikes and operating alert systems for the public. What action should you take if you happened to be there at the time the warning came?
Listen to and follow instructions:
Pay attention to the alarms and instructions issued by the authorities, follow orders and wait for further updates.
Run for shelter:
Any protection is better than none, but look for:
Distance – Ideal shelters are underground as it will be further away and therefore better protected from fallout particles. Places such as basements or underground railway tunnels.
Shielding – The thicker, heavier and denser the materials between you and the fallout from the blast, the better. Thick concrete, bricks and earth. If improvising, then stacking books and heavy furniture will be better than nothing.
Time – Stay until further instruction is given by authorities (unless of course communications have stopped). Radiation poses the greatest threat to life in the first two weeks, after which it will have declined to about 1% of its initial level.
Of course, the best way to survive any situation is to be prepared. The US government directs people to this website for advice on both preparing for and coping with nuclear blasts: ready.gov . There is also more detailed advice on what to do if you are unable to reach shelter.
Know your shelters – Find out if the local authority has any designated fallout shelters in your area. If not, then make a list of potential shelters near the places you frequent, like basements, subways and tunnels.
Build an emergency supply kit – to include enough water and food for a minimum of three days, first aid kits, face masks and basic hand tools. (For a full list click on the above link). In periods of heightened threat, increase supplies to cover two weeks.
Make a family emergency plan – to cover all aspects of communication, evacuation and sheltering.
The reality is that a nuclear blast would have incredibly detrimental and far-reaching effects but as with all survival situations it is about doing everything in your power to keep yourself and your dependants safe. Here’s to hoping that it never happens.