Bill in Legislature would allow state to prepare for nuclear attack

SEATTLE — Washington state does not have a plan for a nuclear attack because the law does not allow it, but there’s a bill in the state House of Representatives that could change that.

Rep. Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, is one of the sponsors. He hopes with what happened with the false missile alert in Hawaii over the weekend, it will result in a timely push to get his bill heard.

He says right now people don’t know where to evacuate or relocate if a missile were to come our way, and worries we’d have millions of people scrambling in a panic.

While new legislation plays out in Olympia, there are steps your family can take right now to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Text alerts seen across phones in Hawaii left people and lawmakers all over the country concerned about what they would do if a real missile attack were to hit the U.S mainland.

“When I get back to D.C. tomorrow, this is going to be a top priority for all of us to make sure we understand why this happened and what we can do to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” said U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.

In large counties across Western Washington, emergency management officials say it’s unlikely for a similar misstep to happen here as it did in Hawaii, where a state employee pushed the wrong button.

“It takes multiple steps so you can’t have a single point of failure,” said Scott Heinze, who is with Pierce County Emergency Management.

“We have very, very clear protocols and safeguards in place, everywhere from developing message, to sending it, to entering a specific pass code to send out the message, all of that is issued in our standard procedures,” said Lynne Miller, who is with King County Emergency Management.

King County has a newly enhanced regional emergency alert system that sends messages about emergencies, threats to public health and safety and impacts to major infrastructure. In order to get specific alerts, people need to opt-in for alerts that pertain to their place of residence or work.

“In general we definitely recommend you keep your national alerts on your phone activated. It’s important to be notified and we strongly urge people to register for county or city alerts,” said Miller.

The alert systems in King and Pierce counties include most land lines, but not wireless phones.

Safety messages can be received by phone, voice or email. In King County, people can enter as many names and phone numbers where they wish to get alerts and customize the kind of alerts they want.

Officials say the more information you provide, the more channels emergency managers have to connect with you.

“Multiple contact points so there is redundancy in the notification points,” said Heinze.

If a real ballistic missile warning was ever to be issued, emergency managers say if you’re inside, shelter in place and if you’re outside, head indoors.

Pierce County has a page with helpful links and items Heinze says everyone should have at home to sustain you and your family for 10-14 days should any kind of emergency strike.