It’s unclear what exactly would happen if Whidbey Island were to receive a message of an impending missile attack, because for more than 30 years Washington state has banned nuclear war preparations in emergency planning procedures.
A bill has been introduced in the state House and Senate to remove this prohibition.
The 1983 ban specifically applies to planning for evacuation and relocation of citizens, and was put in place over concern that preparing for nuclear war would agitate the Soviet Union, according to the WNPA Olympia News Bureau.
HB 2214 unanimously passed through the House Committee on Public Safety on Wednesday, and the Senate companion bill is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Committee on State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections.
For now, the advice for action if a missile heads this way:
“Get inside, stay inside and stay tuned,” said Eric Brooks, director of Island County Emergency Management.
He said the old videos about ducking and covering aren’t particularly helpful.
The best thing to do is to go inside whatever the closest building is and go as far into the interior as possible; basements are the best location, according to Brooks.
Brooks said don’t try and drive around looking for shelter because that will likely take a lot of time.
The county annex building in Coupeville does have a shelter, but only go there if you are already nearby, he said.
Once inside, it’s important to have a radio and extra batteries, water and plenty of food.
“You may be inside your house for quite a while,” Brooks said.
Outside may be dangerous because of nuclear fallout, the residual radioactive material in the atmosphere after a nuclear blast.
The department recommends having a weather radio, which will automatically turn on if an emergency alert is sent out.
These radios are also useful for staying caught up during an ongoing situation.
Brooks recommended downloading the county’s emergency management phone application, which allows individuals to create plans, develop checklists and notify emergency contacts.
“It’s got a lot of great tools for building your preparedness.”