by Liz McMahon
On Saturday, January 13, an emergency alert went out to cellphones all over Hawaii reading “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
Anxiety and stress for residents and tourists ensued. Thirty-eight long minutes later, the message was revoked.
Among the recipients of the false alarm was actor Jim Carrey. Later that day, he addressed the incident on Twitter: “I woke up this morning in Hawaii with ten minutes to live. It was a false alarm, but a real psychic warning. If we allow his one-man Gomorrah and his corrupt Republican congress to continue alienating the world we are headed for suffering beyond all imagination.”
Indeed, the alert was sent amidst a time of high tension between North Korea and the United States. It seems a modern Cold War is brewing between the two countries, but this time, with social media and smart phones at the helm.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter just 11 days before the Hawaiian panic: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
Trump’s aggressive statement was a response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s statement, saying “The entire mainland of the US is within the range of our nuclear weapons and the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office. They should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality.”
The emergency alert was sent out by accident. During a shift-change drill, Richard Rapoza of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency told The New York Times, an employee “clicked the wrong thing on the computer.”
Americans are becoming more informed about nuclear war and its possible effects, especially with all the “button” talk. NuclearSecrecy.com/ nukemap, a website created in 2013 by nuclear weapons expert and historian
Alex Wellerstein, illustrates the dam- age a nuclear attack would cause in any specific area of the world, including how large the radius of nuclear fallout would be. Over 99 million “virtual detonations” have been created by users on NUKEMAP, says patch.com.
If a nuclear strike were to hit Baltimore, the local government’s suggestions for our safety remain consistent with every other major city: find shelter, preferably underground; stay indoors; seal all doors, windows, and vents; and wait for further instruction from emergency workers. Keep canned food and water on hand just in case.
Let’s hope for no more alarms. False, or otherwise.