How should I respond to a nuclear missile alert?
That is the question many New Yorkers are asking themselves after Hawaii went into high alert Saturday when a state employee clicked the wrong link that lead to a statewide alert of an incoming ballistic missile.
Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and a clinical professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said that what Hawaii would be unlike in New York City. He said that at least two people have to sign off before sending out a city-wide alert.
However, in case of an actual attack, Redlener emphasizes four key steps that could save hundred if thousands of lives:
- Do not look at the blast
- Find shelter within 20 minutes of the alert
- Plan on staying in the shelter for 24 to 48 hours and bring food and water
- Always wait for further direction before leaving
The New York State Office of Emergency Management has put together a website with tips for New Yorkers in case of a major threat. Redlener added that he keeps a “to-go” kit at work, in his car and at home.
The state also hosts classes to help New Yorkers plan ahead for these kinds of events. So far, about 200,000 people have been trained.