False alarm

Discuss how people reacted in Hawaii following alerts sent in error of a ballistic missile threat.

The alert sent in error
Quick activity
Citizenship, PSHE
Disasters and emergencies, Newsthink

For nearly 40 minutes on the morning of Saturday 13 January 2018, people in Hawaii thought a ballistic missile had been launched and was heading in their direction. People were told to seek shelter before it was then announced that the alarm had been an error.

In this discussion activity, learners will consider how different people might react to this news, and what might help them to cope.

Learning objectives

Learners will:

  • develop understanding of the needs of different people in a stressful situation
  • consider how people may react differently to frightening news
  • discuss ways of coping.


Resource overview

  • Class discussion
    Share the alert and gather initial reactions. Learners then imagine they were in Hawaii at the time of the alert and consider the people there and their different situations. Follow on by discussing the different reactions, feelings and coping mechanisms people may have.


This resource was written by P J White of Alt62 and published in January 2018.

The image shows the alert sent in error ©Wikimedia commons / Public Domain