Editorial: False alarm shows need for real preparations for attack

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted1/17/2018 10:03 AM
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  • Cars drive past a highway sign canceling a missile threat in Hawaii. State emergency officials said human error caused a statewide announcement of an incoming missile strike alert that was sent to mobile phones.

    Cars drive past a highway sign canceling a missile threat in Hawaii. State emergency officials said human error caused a statewide announcement of an incoming missile strike alert that was sent to mobile phones. Associated Press Photo via Civil Beat

It's likely conversations were taking place all across the country after the false alarm about a ballistic missile threat in Hawaii: What would you do if that happened here?

We had that conversation at the Daily Herald among a group of editors. Most were not prepared to answer, with one quipping that he'd pop open a bottle of wine and wait it out.

And if you were in the path of a nuclear strike, that's about all you could do. But if you weren't at ground zero, hopefully you have someone nearby like one of our editors who has done some homework on the topic.

It certainly is true that the Hawaii false alarm on Saturday highlighted how ill-prepared all of us are for a nuclear attack.

If there's an attack and you're in the center of impact, there isn't much you can do to survive. But if you're outside that zone, there is a lot you can do to protect yourself and your family. You just have to learn now what you must do; if there were an attack, there wouldn't be time to figure it out then.

There are some common-sense government recommendations at https://www.ready.gov/nuclear-blast

According to the government website, the three factors for protecting oneself from radiation and fallout are distance, shielding and time.

• Distance -- the more distance between you and the fallout particles, the better. An underground area such as a home or office building basement offers more protection than the first floor of a building.

• Shielding -- the heavier and denser the materials -- thick walls, concrete, bricks, books and earth -- between you and the fallout particles, the better.

• Time -- fallout radiation loses its intensity fairly rapidly. In time, you will be able to leave the fallout shelter. Radioactive fallout poses the greatest threat to people during the first two weeks, by which time it has declined to about 1 percent of its initial radiation level.

Other sources say to wait through two waves of the blast before getting up and to shield your hands from being contaminated by radiation so you can use them to clean up.

Most likely, you'll never need to use these safety tips. But if you do need them, knowing them now could save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

The Hawaii false alarm and another one Tuesday in Japan, while scary to those who received them, also remind us that we must plan for the unthinkable.LET'S TALK

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