OPINION: Dallas hacking has local Emergency crews preparing

A guest opinion written by the deputy director of Grays Harbor County Emergency Management.

Last week, the tornado warning system sirens in Dallas were hacked. Sirens activated for over an hour before the entire system had to be shut down. Could the same situation occur with our AHAB siren system in Washington State?

In the ever changing world of computers and their capabilities, the possibility does exist. For state Emergency Management, emergency managers and public officials, the goal at this moment is to review the AHAB system standards and to find ways to prevent a similar event from occurring here. We must also work at how to terminate the hacking problem, if one occurs, while notifying the public quickly, with a clear and concise message about the incident.

The Dallas hacking incident will raise doubt and speculation in emergency public alerting systems – events such as this always do. Some will lose faith in public alerting systems which could lead to terrible consequences during a true event.

In the coastal areas of Washington State, we are taught to “Move to higher ground immediately” if we hear an AHAB Siren activate. Protection of our family, friends and pets should be paramount to all who live here. Never hesitate to move to higher ground if an AHAB Siren Activates.

Remember, AHAB Sirens are only to be heard outdoors. All hazard weather radios are designed for indoor notification and are essential for every office, business and household in Washington State. Information for a tsunami event (or any other major weather or disaster event), will be broadcast over the radio.

Protection of our citizens is the number one priority of every jurisdiction, small or large in Washington State. We continually work to bring you better products, faster notification, clearer and more concise messaging to help reduce the impact any emergency or disaster situation may unleash upon our communities.

Learn your risk and hazard to all disaster and emergency events you could be affected by at home, work and school.

Know where to go to confirm and verify emergency and disaster reporting in your jurisdiction.

Prepare for all disaster possibilities. It will reduce the impact any event has upon you, your family, friends and community.

Charles Wallace is the deputy director of Grays Harbor County Emergency Management.