Fallin: Hawaii false warning is unlikely in Oklahoma

Governor Mary Fallin said procedures are in place to prevent a false warning being sent by the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM).

As part of those procedures, members of a team within the agency will discuss the need for an alert and approve messaging before an alert is issued, the governor said.

Oklahoma’s approach differs from Hawaii, in which one employee doing a routine test this month mistakenly hit a live-alert button. The message warned of an impending ballistic missile threat.

“The safeguards used by the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management ensure that when a warning message is issued Oklahomans should indeed begin to take precautions and that it is not a false alarm,” said Fallin.

Warning messages in Oklahoma usually deal with dangerous weather conditions. The last time OEM issued an emergency alert was during the January 2011 blizzard when numerous motorists were stranded on highways across the state. The alert notified motorists how to request help.

“In Oklahoma, disasters can occur in any season, so it’s critical to have procedures in place for issuing emergency alerts and notifications,” said Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. “We take this responsibility very seriously, and have built in precautions to ensure an accidental alert cannot happen.”

OEM tests the Emergency Alert System monthly.