It's 2017, but somehow the possibility of nuclear war is a subject that's fresh on people's minds. The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 72 years ago and the Cold War ended more than two decades ago, but unfortunately, we haven't moved past this issue. As a result, Hawaii is preparing for a nuclear attack, making it the first state to seriously consider what it would do if targeted by North Korea. According to CNN, the state has actually been prepping for the past seven months, even before the tensions between the United States and North Korea reached new heights over the past week or so. This is just in case -- it does not mean people in Hawaii are panicking. After all, it never hurts to have a plan.
While a nuclear attack is not necessarily imminent or even likely, state officials in Hawaii are cognizant of the fact it would have very little time to react if North Korea sent a nuclear warhead its way. Lt. Col. Charles Anthony, director of public affairs for Hawaii's Department of Defense, told Sara Sidner and Traci Tamura of CNN, "If North Korea uses an intercontinental ballistic missile, from launch to impact [in Hawaii] is approximately 20 minutes." That gives people a very small window to seek shelter, which is exactly why Hawaii is doing what it can to make sure its residents know what to do.
After dozens of missile tests from North Korea in the past 24 months and the more recent news it has successfully developed missile-ready nuclear weapons, it makes sense for Hawaii to have a plan.
Given the aggression North Korea has recently exhibited, it's clear Hawaii's leaders feel they have a duty to help prepare the state's 1.4 million residents. Speaking with CBS News in July, State Representative Gene Ward said, "In the last two years, there was 56 missile launches. That is a wake-up call."
Accordingly, emergency management officials are pushing for re-establishing an attack warning system akin to air raid sirens used during the Cold War, CNN reports. These officials are reportedly planning to test the attack warning sirens in November. They're working on educating the public what the sirens mean via pamphlets and mobile text alerts. Hawaii already has a warning system in place for hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquake activity, volcanic activity, and flooding.
Beyond the warning system, officials are also reportedly telling residents to stock up on at least 14 days' worth of food and supplies in their homes.
Hawaii is also looking at how to restock fallout shelters that have been neglected since the end of the Cold War, CNN reports.
Heading to a fallout shelter provides the best hope for surviving a nuclear attack. Given this might not be possible, officials are reportedly telling people in Hawaii to be aware of their surroundings and think of potential places to seek shelter. According to what they told Sidner and Tamura at CNN, an underground concrete basement is among the best options.
If people find themselves on the beach, they're being told they should seek out a cave. If they're in a car, officials say they should find the closest concrete building, avoid windows, and head to the center of the structure. If a house is their only option, officials say they should head to the center.
Hopefully, people in Hawaii (or anywhere else) will never have to follow these instructions. But, if the time comes, it's clear the most important thing to do is to seek shelter as soon as the warning system is activated to avoid radioactive fallout.