The US state of Hawaii is preparing the public for a possible ballistic missile strike from North Korea.
The state’s Emergency Management Agency said on Friday that it would launch an education program for the public in November.
The agency will begin monthly tests of an “attack-warning” siren.
The wailing siren will be tested on the first working day of each month, after a test of an “attention-alert” steady tone siren with which residents are already familiar.
Informational brochures, along with TV, radio and internet announcements will help educate the public about the new siren sound and provide preparedness guidance. “If they’re not educated, they could actually be frightened by it,” agency Executive Director Toby Clairmont said of needing several months to introduce the new siren.
Because it would take a missile 15 minutes — maybe 20 minutes — to arrive, the instructions to the public are simple: “Get inside, stay inside and stay tuned,” said Vern Miyagi, agency administrator. “You will not have time to pick up your family and go to a shelter and all that kind of stuff. … It has to be automatic.”
He stressed that his agency is simply trying to stay ahead of a “very unlikely” scenario, but it’s a possibility that Hawaii can’t ignore.
Hawaii is an important strategic outpost for the US military. The island of Oahu is home to the US Pacific Command, the military’s headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region. It also hosts dozens of Navy ships at Pearl Harbor and is a key base for the Air Force, Army, and .
Hawaii residents, who already face hazards including from tsunami and hurricanes, are familiar with disaster preparedness. Because it’s currently hurricane season, residents should already have an emergency kit that includes 14-days of food and water.
“It also works for this type of scenario,” said Lt. Col. Charles Anthony, spokesman for the Hawaii State Department of Defense.
The state of Hawaii is the first state in the US to plan the missile preparedness program following North Korea’s 4th of July announcement that it had developed an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US.