After Hawaii false alarm, experts weigh in on the potential threat of nuclear missiles

Hawaii residents received false emergency alert about an incoming missile (MGN Online)

On Saturday, Hawaii emergency management sent out an urgent alert to residents reading, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter, this is not a drill."

It sent thousands of people into a panic, only to find out later that the alert was sent out by accident.

However, the false alarm begs the question: what if it wasn't a mistake?

Michael Hall, the executive director at the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, says it's a valid concern.

"It scared so many people because there is a real threat out there, North Korea is a serious security threat," said Hall.

RELATED | Officials in Hawaii apologize for 'false alarm' missile warning

So what do you do if a missile is headed your way? Science consultant Ben McGee says it wouldn't be the end of the world, but the decisions you make in the moments after receiving the alert will be crucial.

"One of the big misconceptions is that any nuke if it comes down just means certain doom for everyone, that's not true," said McGee. "People think the radiation is the biggest threat with a nuke. It's actually not; it's the shockwave that's moving rapidly and carrying stop signs and Volvos with it. So one important thing is if you ever see a flash that's brighter than the sun, get away from the windows because you just saw the lightning and the thunder's coming."

McGee says the alert error that happened in Hawaii isn't a bad problem to be having. He believes people should look at the silver lining and be reassured by the fact that we have systems in place that can alert the public to potential threats in an instant.

"If you're going to have an error, I’d rather have it happen this way than to have a bomb dropped on you and nobody knew it was coming," said McGee.

McGee says if a missile strike were to actually happen, people should stay indoors, find shelter, and duck and cover.

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