I received the following fact sheet (FAQ) from the Office of Emergency Management. It talks about what you can do to survive a nuclear attack.

Part of emergency response training is to understand the risk of something happening and how much damage will result from it happening. We have all seen on the news what Harvey, Irma and Marie have done in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean.  The probability of that happening in Hawaii in our lifetimes is high. You should plan on our older, single wall homes being destroyed or seriously damaged by a Category 3 hurricane. You will be on your own without power, water, drugstores, gas stations or banks for a week or more. Marine transportation may be seriously disrupted for months. 

A nuclear attack is survivable if you are far enough away from the blast and take cover from radioactive fallout. From warning to explosion, you will have no more than 15 minutes to find shelter. Radiation from a nuclear explosion decays rapidly. You may have to stay in a safe room, sealed against fallout, for from several days to a month. Have a hand crank emergency radio so you can stay informed and know when it is safe to leave your safe room.

Each of us will evaluate our risk and what we should do about it differently. If you have the money, rich people may build fallout shelters as they did in the 60s. This could be an appropriately designed room in a basement or even a part of your home dug into the side of a hill. 

The idea is to help your family survive a natural or man-made disaster as comfortably as your budget allows. At least have a supply of food, water, medicine and camping equipment to be self-sufficient for two weeks. How you evaluate the risk of something happening and how bad you expect the damage to be will determine how you prepare.


Hawaii Emergency Management Agency



Revised: 08 AUG 2017.5

1. Q: Why now? Has the North Korea missile threat increased so much recently that you were urged to begin preparations for an attack?

A: Preparations for the North Korea missile and nuclear threat began in late 2016 when this assessment suggested early preparations should be initiated. Hawaii has maintained plans to cope with missile testing since 2009. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) conducts a Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) every year. This process examines potential hazards and threats to the State of Hawaii including natural (hurricane, tsunami), technological (cyberterrorism) and man-made (acts of terrorism) hazards.

2. Q: I have heard that planning for a nuclear attack from North Korea is futile given most of the population will be killed or critically injured. Is that true?

A: No. Current estimates of human casualties based on the size (yield) of North Korean nuclear weapon technology strongly suggests an explosion less than 8 miles in diameter. More than 90% of the population would survive the direct effects of such an explosion. Planning and preparedness are essential to protect those survivors from delayed residual radiation (fallout) and other effects of the attack such as the loss of utilities and communication systems, structural fires, etc.

3. Q: How will the public learn of a possible missile launch from North Korea?

A: Approximately 5 minutes into the launch sequence, the U.S. Pacific Command will notify the Hawaii State Warning Point (SWP) that a missile is en route from North Korea. The SWP is staffed on a 24-hour, 7 day-a-week basis by skilled emergency management professionals.

Upon receipt of the notification, the SWP will activate the ‘Attack-Warning’ signal on all outdoor sirens statewide (wailing sound) and transmit a warning advisory on radio, television and cellular telephones within 2 minutes.

4. Q: What should Hawaii residents and visitors do when they hear the ‘Attack-Warning’ siren signal?

A: All residents and visitors must immediately seek shelter in a building or other substantial structure. Once the sirens sound, residents and visitors will have less than 12 to 15 minutes before missile impact.

3949 Diamond Head Road · Honolulu ·Hawaii · 96816 Telephone (808) 733-4300

Frequently Asked Questions with Answers Page 2 of 3

5. Q: Was the recent public messaging recommending that each individual/family maintain a 14-day survival kit made because of the North Korea threat?

A: No. The 14-day recommendation was made following an intensive analysis suggesting that Hawaii could experience a major disruption to maritime transportation (shipping and ports) in the event of a major hurricane. This recommendation does however complement the potential need for 14 days of sheltering following a nuclear attack.

6. Q: When will schools begin nuclear drills?

A: Schools are not expected to conduct drills specific to a nuclear attack. Existing drills known as ‘Shelter-in-Place’ drills serve the same purpose. These drills are regularly conducted at all schools statewide and are considered more than adequate in terms of protecting students and staff.

7. Q: When will the new ‘Attack-Warning’ siren signal be available and how will it be tested?

A: The new (second) ‘Attack-Warning’ siren signal (wailing sound) will be available for use beginning in November 2017 or later. The signal will be tested on the first working day of every month thereafter together with the existing ‘Attention-Alert’ signal (steady sound) used for other emergencies.

8. Q: Are there public shelters (blast or fallout) designated in our communities?

A: No. There are currently no designated shelters in the State of Hawaii at this time. The short warning time (12 to 15 minutes) would not allow for residents or visitors to locate such a shelter in advance of missile impact.

9. Q: How long will residents and visitors need to remain sheltered following a nuclear detonation?

A: In most cases, only until the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has assessed residual radiation and fallout. This could be as little as a few hours or as long as 14 days.

10. Q: What is fallout?

A: Debris including soil, fragments of destroyed buildings and other material will be drawn into the cloud of a nuclear detonation and propelled into the sky. This debris will begin to settle back to earth within hours. This debris includes residual radiation that poses a significant health risk to humans and animals.

11. Q: How can I tell if nuclear radiation is present?

A: Nuclear radiation cannot be perceived by the human senses (sight, smell, etc.). Specialized instruments are needed to detect its presence and intensity. Those instruments are available for use by public safety agencies across the State of Hawaii.

12. Q: How long will nuclear radiation persist after a nuclear detonation?

A: Radiation from nuclear detonation in the form of fallout decays very rapidly. Days to

Frequently Asked Questions with Answers Page 3 of 3

weeks in most situations.

13. Q: Are the neighbor island safe?

A: We do not know. North Korean missile technology may not be adequately advanced to accurately target a specific island or location. Although most analysts believe the desired target will be Oahu given the concentration of military and government facilities, a missile may stray and impact the open ocean or even a neighbor island. All areas of the State of Hawaii

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