Things to do during a missile threat: get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned

Written by: 
Toni Yee

Get inside. Stay inside. Stay tuned. These are the three things to keep in mind when an actual ballistic missile threat occurs, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

Earl “Torch” Morris, the director of the Department of Public Safety at BYU-Hawaii, said in the event of a ballistic missile threat, “The least of our problems are the broken windows. We’re 25 miles away from Honolulu, and the topography in Laie with the mountains would make it difficult to have a strong impact.”

Morris said students should shelter in place once the ballistic missile attack is initiated. “If you’re on campus and in your dormitory, stay.

“When we say shelter in place and you’re expecting a nuclear blast, pull the blanket off of your bed, lie flat on the ground and cover yourself. That is the safest thing to do when you’re in an area with a lot of windows.

“If the windows blow up, that’s when you hurry and get up. Take your blanket and find a way to secure and seal off where the nuclear debris is coming from,”  he added.

If you’re in a classroom or at the Cannon Activties Center, Morris said, “Stay there and and watch out because we’re going to give directions on where to go and what to do.”

He said the campus emergency alert system will send out instructions. “If you don’t have a phone or our system has blown out, you need to shelter in place and stay for at least 24 hours. That’s why we’re encouraging students to have a 24-hour kit.

“It does not need to be elaborate. But you need to have extra water, ramen noodles, granola bars or any medication that you will need.”

Morris gave a list of the procedures to apply during an actual ballistic missile threat:

1. Do not look directly at the light.

2. Seek immediate shelter to protect yourself from possible debris.

3. Seek shelter that is enclosed, preferably in a location protected with layers of concrete or brick. If possible, use tape, clothing, or other materials to seal off the areas where air from the outside may enter.

4. Do not go outside even if it is to locate missing family members or animals.

5. Stay indoors for at least 24 hours.

6. Shower, if possible, with soap and water, but do not use conditioner because it takes the role of being a binder for radioactive particles. Blow your nose and wipe your eyelids.

7. Once protected inside the building, remove as many particles of radiation as possible specifically from your clothes and hair by taking off the outer layer of your clothes and   putting them a plastic bag if possible.If you can’t take a shower, use a wipe or a clean wet towel to wipe off your skin.  

8. Listen to the radio or television if they are operational.

9. Radiation is not able to be seen or smelled so trust the information from experts before exposing yourself to outside air.

10. Fallout radiation loses its intensity fairly rapidly. In time, you will be able to leave your place of refuge. Radioactivity poses the greatest threat within the first two weeks, by which it has declined to about 1 percent of its radiation level.

Morris also advised students and faculty to stay informed and take precautionary efforts by signing up for the university alert system by following these steps:

1. Go to and click on “Peoplesoft Student” under the “Faculty & Staff” column.

2. Enter your login info.

3. Click the drop down arrow for “Self Service,” then the drop down arrow for “Campus Personal Information,” and click on “Phone Numbers.”

4. Input or update your phone number so it’s registered in the system.


When the threat warning occurs, BYUH students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to shelter in the location where they are, unless they are not in a secured location. Due to the short amount of time available from the time of warning to the potential impact, moving to the Stake Center or CAC may not be feasible, says officials.

Date Published: 
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Last Edited: 
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

NOTE: This article's online publication was delayed because it was featured in the Feb. 2018 print issue.