Siren test to include Attack Warning Signal

The Maui News

The monthly state siren test at 11:45 a.m. Friday will include a new one-minute wailing tone, the Attack Warning Signal, in response to increased tensions with North Korea.

December will be the first month for the reinstatement of the Attack Warning Signal. It will be part of the state’s monthly test of the statewide outdoor warning siren system, which is coordinated with the live audio broadcast segment of the Emergency Alert System, the state Emergency Management Agency said.

In addition to the Attack Warning Signal, there will be the usual one-minute Attention Alert Signal, a steady tone. The Attention Alert Signal informs residents to turn on a radio or television for information and instruction for an impending emergency, or, if in a coastal inundation area, evacuate to higher ground.

The Attack Warning Signal directs residents to seek immediate shelter and to remain sheltered in place until an all-clear message is broadcast over radio or television.

When asked about the potential for survival of the blast but danger from radioactive fallout, Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said that staying indoors can help reduce exposure. State officials said that there is a lot of data from doctors in Hiroshima, Japan, where the first atomic bomb was dropped by the U.S. in 1945, that many people survived by just staying indoors and away from radioactive particles, he said.

Antone noted that North Korean nuclear missiles would likely be smaller than Cold War-era nukes, with a 4- to 6-mile blast radius.

“If you can get to a concrete structure then great, otherwise stay indoors,” he said. “You drastically reduce your chances for survival by going outside.”

This first test is to acquaint people with the attack siren sound and how it differs from the Attention Alert Signal, Antone said.

George Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, said Wednesday that travelers to Hawaii should not be alarmed by the Attack Warning Signal, which is being conducted “in response to North Korea’s test launches and threats to use an intercontinental ballistic missile against the United States.

“It is imperative to remember that the threat of a missile attack against Hawaii by North Korea is a highly unlikely possibility, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency,” he continued.

The Attack Warning Signal is part of a longstanding policy by the state “to be prepared and informing the public well in advance of any potential threat to Hawaii’s well-being,” Szigeti said.

The tests of the outdoor warning sirens and the Emergency Alert System are conducted simultaneously, normally on the first working day of the month, in cooperation with Hawaii’s broadcast industry.

Siren issues may be reported to the Maui County Emergency Management Agency at 270-7285.