News, Survival

Hawaii Fake Missile Warning Shows Us What the Apocalypse Would Look Like

In a grievous error that likely got someone very fired, a fake alert was sent out on Saturday warning everyone in Hawaii that a ballistic missile was heading their way, and they needed to take cover immediately. The terrifying message also reiterated that they this was NOT a drill. The message resulted in a lot of crying, frantic phone calls, and Twitter posts. Quite a few people did take shelter, so kudos to them, but some people decided to check social media first, which isn’t a very good idea… Post Apocalyptic Media would like to remind you that if you get a message telling you to take cover, take cover first and check social media after you’re secure. 

If you get a message about an incoming missile, take cover FIRST. Social media can wait. Click to Tweet

It took somewhere between 15 and 45 minutes for officials to get the word out that this was not really happening. The warning, which was sent out via text and on television, insisted that this was *not* a drill. But it turns out that it was a drill and a government employee simply hit the wrong button by accident. (But honestly, there are quite a few conspiracy theories floating around with people doubting that explanation.) Hawaii Emergency Management released this statement, which reads in part: “The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) has confirmed that there was no ballistic missile and that there were no computer hacks to the HI-EMA system. The cause of the false alarm was human error. … HI-EMA has already taken measures to ensure that an incident such as the one that occurred this morning does not happen again. HI-EMA has also started a review of cancellation procedures to inform the public immediately if a cancellation is warranted…” According to the press release, at 8:05 a.m. local time, a routine internal test of the emergency alert system was initiated during a shift change. A warning test was then triggered statewide. About five minutes later, it was validated with U.S. Pacific Command that there was no missile launch, and the police were notified. A cancellation was issued at 8:13 a.m., which would prevent any phones that weren’t on at the time from getting a later alert. At 8:20 a.m., Hawaii Emergency Management notified the public on social media that the alert was cancelled. At 8:45, a cancellation message was sent out through the emergency alert system.

So yes, some people did not find out the warning wasn’t real until 8:45, nearly 40 minutes after the alert was originally sent out. 🙁  (And yes, apparently the person who made the big mistake has been temporarily reassigned…but not fired? Hmmm.)

But just as interesting as all of that, at least to some of us, is how some people immediately took to social media instead of immediately finding shelter. Look, I totally get checking out social media to make sure the warning’s real. But get yourself into a safe place first.

Want to know what the end-of-the-world might feel like (or at least, what the first warnings would look like)? Here are videos of the TV notifications:

Here’s what it sounded like on the radio:

And here’s what the phone warning looked like. Seriously, this would be terrifying:

Here’s what it sounded like on base at Pearl Harbor:

This had to be terrifying. Here are some people talking about what happened, and sharing their reactions, fears, and thoughts. It’s the most inside-look we’ll get of what a missile attack would be like, right before the apocalypse kicks in. (I’m not saying a missile hitting Hawaii would necessarily bring an apocalypse, but this is what it would likely feel like.):

This was pretty serious. I can’t imagine what it was like to be those residents who had no idea what was happening for a short period of time.

Since this happened, publication after publication have been sharing what to do if you get a message like this. Here are just a few articles: BBC, Lifehacker.

We recommend investing in Nuclear War Survival Skills. It’s a new edition of Cresson H. Kearny’s book originally published in 1979, updated by Kearny himself in 2001. It comprises years of scientific research conducted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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