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Jakarta Post

Four steps to take if war breaks out

  • Bak Se-hwan & Jung Min-kyung

    The Korea Herald/ANN

Seoul   /   Tue, September 5, 2017   /   04:05 pm
Four steps to take if war breaks out A man walks past a television news screen showing a graphic of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on August 29, 2017. Nuclear-armed North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean on August 29 in a major escalation by Pyongyang amid tensions over its weapons ambitions. (Agence France-Presse/Jung Yeon-Je)

It appears experts and government officials in South Korea and abroad have yet to decide just what to think of North Korea’s latest nuclear test on Sunday. But for ordinary South Koreans, one thing looks clear: North Korea’s weapons program has made significant progress. In other words, those in South Korea are now at greater risk.

The possibility of the ongoing military escalation evolving into a full-blown war is still deemed low, but there is no harm in preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Here is how to react in the event of an attack, based on guidelines provided by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security.

1. The basics

If you believe an attack is imminent, you should prepare yourself an emergency supply kit designed to keep you alive while staying in a shelter for as long as it takes. According to the Security Ministry, the kit should include needed medications, cooking utensils, a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, a flashlight, candles, gas masks, food and water.

Before the attack, experts advise to make a family emergency plan and decide when and how to contact each other in case of an emergency.

For foreign residents, the ministry official said it is important to check with their companies, schools or organizations as to whether to stay or leave the country.

“Once they decide to leave the country, they should follow evacuation instructions from their embassies, as they are only allowed to use airlines and airports designated by the government in case of a war,” an official at the ministry said.

If you are an undocumented immigrant, or lack valid identification, you should report to immigration offices for further instructions, the official added.

2. What to do during artillery fire?

In such a case where North Korean artillery begin to shell the city of Seoul, the first step would be finding fallout shelters near home, work and school in your community. Around 24,000 public buildings, subway stations and underground parking spaces nationwide have been designated as such, according to the ministry.

Follow government instructions carefully through local broadcasts on TV and radio for evacuation information.

If you can’t find designated shelters near your location, find the nearest building and take cover below ground if possible. Stay there as long as possible until instructed otherwise through official broadcast channels.

Experts recommend getting out of a car if driving during the emergency situation, and to run alongside buildings while keeping as low as possible until you find potential concrete structures to serve as fallout shelters to protect yourself.

3. If it involves chemical weapons?

When uncertain about a chemical weapons attack, animal corpses are one of the first signs to look for. Usually corpses of birds and fish will be spotted on ground and in the water.

It is also crucial to be aware of injuries and side effects on one’s body. Most toxic chemicals will enter a functioning human body through the respiratory system. Inhalation of such materials will likely cause inflammation and irritation of the eyes, difficulty breathing, reddening skin and body convulsion.

To avoid these symptoms, a person must immediately cover his or her face with a gas mask or other cloth while seeking safety.

High ground nearby such as a rooftop is the most convenient place to seek refuge when a deadly chemical agent is unleashed. Most chemical gases, such as sarin, are denser than air, which means they will sink to the ground.

When in a room, all cracks around windows, doors and other openings should be sealed. Ventilators and air conditioners must be turned off to prevent the risk of unwanted air circulation.

The wind will carry toxic materials, so an escapee must head toward the opposite direction of the blowing wind.

Try to avoid contact with contaminated materials or people. Notify the fire department or government officials of your current location and any possible symptoms as soon as possible. Body parts that were exposed to contamination should be cleansed thoroughly with soap or detergent and all clothing should be sealed in plastic bags.

Seek hospital assistance or emergency centers for further treatment.

4. To survive a nuclear blast?

An explosion from a nuclear attack emits heat ranging from 3000 to 4000 degrees Celsius. It is bound to cause massive fires in several areas due to gas pipe explosions and building collapses.

The electromagnetic wave from the detonation would paralyze communication systems, affecting electronic devices including computers and smartphones.

Once you’ve escaped from the detonation, avoid any fallout from the explosion. Radiation cannot be detected without specialized instruments, so one must take extreme caution when relocating to an underground facility such as a subway station.

If there is no such facility nearby, try to keep your body low, such as in a drainage ditch. Hide inside lead or concrete structures when no other options are available. Minimizing contact with radioactive materials is the key initiative.

Take cover in a shelter or a place away from the general vicinity of the radioactive fallout until further government notice. All food and water must be preserved in a plastic bag, wrap or container to shield it from radioactive decay.

This article appeared on The Korea Herald newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post