What should you do if you received a missile alert right now? It’s not a question those living in western countries would have considered before last week, because it never felt like a likely scenario.

That is, until a ballistic missile alert was accidentally issued to over 1.5 million people in Hawaii, and suddenly the fear of a chemical attack became all too real.

While some locals were able to hide out in pre-arranged personal underground shelters, there were thousands of tourists running around the island state scared, confused and desperate for any form of assistance.

Image: ready.gov/

Image: ready.gov/

Although American officials assured the world that the alert was an accident, and Hawaii’s tourism leaders promised it wouldn’t happen again, people in western countries are now, more than ever, keen to know how they should respond in the event of a missile alert.

The US government has met this demand via its website ‘Ready‘, by publishing some useful tips on where to go and what to do before, during and after an attack.

Here’s what they recommend:


1. Take cover as quick as possible, preferably underground or structures built of brick of concrete.

2. Once inside, lay flat on the ground, cover your head and close your eyes. It’s important to avoid looking at the flash or fireball as it can blind you.

3. Keep your eyes closed even after the initial sound as it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.

4. If you were outside during the blast, you’ll want to get clean as soon as possible by removing the outer layer of your clothing. They recommend placing it in a sealed bag so the radioactive items don’t affect others.

5. When possible, take a shower with lots of soap and water to remove radioactive contamination, but, don’t scrub or scratch the skin. Ensure hair is washed with shampoo or soap and water. DON’T use conditioner because it can bind radioactive material to your hair, keeping it from rinsing out easily.

6. Gently blow your nose and wipe eyelids, ears and eyelashes with a clean wet cloth.

7. If you cannot shower, use a wipe or clean wet cloth to wipe your skin that was not covered by clothing.


According to the website, people should expect to stay indoors for up to 24 hours, unless told otherwise by authorities. Click here for more information.

Was anyone you know caught up in the weekend’s scare?