North Korea's latest ballistic missile test last month went higher than ever— reaching an altitude of 4,000 km— according to US officials, who warned that the rogue regime may be on the nose to hit "everywhere in the world" with a nuclear strike.
While Guam may be Pyongyang's default target, the local community remains calm and a bit nonchalant. But regardless of whether the threat is real or idle, the Guam Office of Civil Defense is not taking any chances.
Following a monthly series of emergency siren tests, the civil defense office has renewed its official guidelines on how to survive a nuclear missile strike, including links to the agency’s website and videos enumerating “three easy steps” to beat the 14-minute window—the amount of time one has to run for safety before the missile lands—once the “attack tone” rings.
“If an attack warning is issued, take cover as quickly as possible, below ground if possible and stay there until instructed to do otherwise,” the guidelines say. If caught outside, “find the nearest building, preferably built of brick or concrete, or go inside to the avoid any radioactive material.”
The guidelines also include basic preparedness tips before, during and after the nuclear blast. The government advises people to build an emergency kit and make a family emergency plan.
“The preparedness videos are part of an initiative to promote routine activities to help build a more resilient community and are not in connection to any specified, imminent threat,” states a press release from civil defense office.
Civil defense officials said the danger of a massive strategic nuclear attack on the United States is predicted by experts to be less likely today. “However, terrorism, by nature is unpredictable.”
Though the written guidelines are presented as dryly as possible and the video tips narrated in a strangely upbeat tone, the impact of a possible nuclear blast is horrid just the same.
“A nuclear blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water and grounds surfaces for miles around,” the guidelines read. “A nuclear device can range from a weapon carried by an intercontinental missile to s small portable nuclear device transported by an individual. All nuclear devices cause deadly effects when exploded.”
On Oct. 2, the Offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense tested the All Hazards Alert Warning System from 15 locations. The pre-scheduled quarterly test for GHS/OCD was held in conjunction with the U.S. Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base monthly routine testing of the vital communication and advance warning system, “Giant Voice.”
It was the first time the military and local agencies have simultaneously tested their warning systems.
Read the guidelines
“This demonstrates the great partnership between the federal and local governments and ensures that if and when the need arises to use these emergency warning systems, we will be able to inform the whole island.” said Capt. Hans Sholley, the Navy’s commanding officer.
Charles Esteves, administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, said the quarterly tests are aimed at identifying gaps and shortfalls with Guam’s current capabilities. “It is important for the public to understand that the (the alert waring systems) is but a single component in our emergency mass notification system.” He said.
On Oct. 17, the local government tested the Short Message Service text notification, sent the test text to all participating telecommunication carriers, which included Docomo Pacific, GTA Teleguam, iConnect Guam, and IT&E Guam.
“In just the last five years, technology has changed the way people communicate and share information. With the help of telecommunication, media and other community partners, the goal is to get information to island residents through various platforms,” the Office of Civil Defense said.