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2 False Missile Alarms: What To Do During A Nuclear Attack

The missile threat alert for Hawaii on Saturday was a false alarm. It took 38 minutes for authorities to declare this alert a mistake, using a second emergency alert.

How terrifying it must have been to get that first alert: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL”.

State leaders and emergency officials explained it was an employee who "pushed the wrong button."

On Tuesday, Japanese broadcaster, NHK, issued an alert that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile. The alert was quickly corrected as NHK issued an on-air apology for the mistake.

In case of a nuclear attack, here’s what to do:

  • The number one thing to do is to seek cover immediately.
  • When all you have had as a warning is a visual of the nuclear bomb as it is detonating, then use something to block the light from the bomb and if at all possible, something that will shelter you from the blast of the bomb. Once a nuclear bomb explodes, there’s a flash of light from the bomb and there will only be a few seconds where the flash of light becomes an agonizing heat. This could only take 30 seconds to reach you. Do not look at the flash or fireball, there’s risk of going blind.
  • Once the blast is over, get indoors inside a building or structure (preferably brick or concrete) that is far below ground or has walls that can protect you from radioactive fallout. Places like basements, the center of multi-story buildings, underground parking structures, and subway stations work well. There’s only a few minutes between the time when a nuclear blast is over and when the fallout starts to come down.
  • Once you are safely indoors, it’s prefered to remove any contaminated clothing, seal it in a bag, and place the bag far away from yourself and others. Try to take a shower with soap and water. Do not scrub or scratch your skin. Do not wash your hair with conditioner because this binds radioactive material to your hair. Blow your nose gently. If it’s not possible to shower, then use a wet cloth to wipe your exposed skin down.
  • 7:10 rule of thumb: Seven hours after detonation, the radiation exposure rate declines to one-tenth of its original rate. Try to stay indoors for at least 24 hours until authorities advise you otherwise.

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