Attack Warning Siren Tests Begin in December

November 8, 2017, 11:04 AM HST · Updated November 11, 7:47 AM
Wendy Osher · 19 Comments

The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency will begin testing its Attack Warning Signal or “Wailing Tone” next month as they continue preparedness and consequence management plans related to potential attack scenarios.

Emergency Management Agency Siren, Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

In July, Vern Miyagi, HI-EMA Administrator had said that although the threat of a ballistic missile threat from North Korea was assessed to be low, the state agency has a responsibility to plan for all hazards.

The new Attack Warning Signal test will take place monthly, beginning on Dec. 1, 2017 in conjunction with the standard Attention Alert STEADY one minute test.

The Attention Alert Signal (standard monthly test) sirens are used to alert the public to any emergency that may pose a threat to life or property. The sound of the sirens is a cue for residents to turn on a radio or television for information and instruction for an impending emergency. Besides natural hazards, the Emergency Alert System could be used for terrorist incidents or acts of war.


The Attack Warning Signal or “Wailing Tone” was used during the Cold War for attack scenarios and is being restored.  This wailing tone advises everyone to take immediate shelter: “get inside, stay inside and stay tuned.”

In a public service announcement produced by HI-EMA, Miyagi said even though the probability is low, an attack or terror incident, every household should have a plan and an emergency kit that includes 14 days of food and water.

Military experts estimate a missile from North Korea would take between 12-20 minutes to reach Hawaiʻi.

HI-EMA hosted an emergency preparedness presentation on Saturday Nov. 4, 2017.  Full video from that presentation is posted below:

NBC News compiled an article providing the public with a guideline on what to do in the case of a nuclear attack to escape radioactive fallout.  The publication states that “sheltering in place, beneath as many layers of protection as possible, is the best way to avoid the radiation that would follow a nuclear detonation.”

The federal government’s website also has a list of guidelines on what to do before, during and after a nuclear blast, providing simple steps to protect life.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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