After False Alarm in Hawaii, What to Do in the Event of a Missile Threat

Playing How to Survive a Nuclear Attack if You’re Half a Mile from Epicenter

After the threat of an incoming missile spawned panic and confusion that gripped Hawaii over the weekend, many people have been left wondering what they would do if such an alert popped up on their cell phone.

The alert in Hawaii turned out to be a false alarm triggered by someone who "pushed the wrong button."

Radiation safety expert Andy Karim says you can survive a nuclear attack, especially if you're half-a-mile or more from the epicenter of a blast.

“After an explosion, there's gonna be fallout and that fallout is gonna be intensely radioactive," Karim told Inside Edition. "If you're outside, that can kill you. But if you can get inside and put 20 to 30 feet between you and the fallout, that distance will save your life."

Karim took Inside Edition to the basement of a big building, where he said it's best to be at the center of the room and as far away from the exterior walls as possible to avoid the fallout coming down outside.

During the Cold War, American citizens were instructed to “duck and cover” in the event of a nuclear blast and that advice still holds true today.

“If the building is shaking, you should get down and protect yourself from falling debris or flying glass from the window being blown in,” Karim said. 

During the panic in Hawaii, video emerged of a little girl being dropped into a storm drain. Many wondered if that was a smart thing to do. 

Columbia University professor Irwin Redlener, a leading expert on disaster preparedness, spoke to Inside Edition about the footage. He warned that it's "not a smart thing to do."

“Certainly you are more protected if you were just on the street or in a car but you are not going to be able to stay there for 24 to 48 hours," he said. "Especially not for a child and especially without no food, no water, no supplies."

If you are driving, pull to the side of the road and seek shelter in a building or lay on the floor.

"A car is not a good shelter. You have got to be out of the car and in a building that has enough reinforcement that is far enough away from the actual blast. You can be in your car to get away from the blast but you have to be in shelter within 15-20 minutes," he added. 

If you are exposed to fallout, you must get if off right away. 

“If you think that you are contaminated, brush your clothes off before going inside or immediately afterwards and then change your clothes and wash your hair off in the sink or in the shower,” Karim said. “As you shower, bend your head forward so the fallout doesn't get into your eyes or mouth.” 

Experts also recommend having an emergency kit at hand. It should have bottled water, energy bars and a hand crank radio so you can listen to news broadcasts to find out when it's safe to go back outside.

It is only safe to leave after the radiation decays, which usually takes about a day or two.

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