LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Residents of the tiny Pacific island of Guam say they’re afraid of being caught in the middle of escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea after Pyongyang announced it was examining plans for attacking the strategically important U.S. territory.
Though local officials downplayed any threat and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was unruffled as he headed to Guam to refuel on his trip back to Washington from Malaysia, people who live and work on the island said they could no longer shrug off the idea of being a potential target. Guam serves as a launching pad for the U.S. military.
Reports suggested North Korea mastered a technological hurdle needed to strike the U.S. with a nuclear missile. The advances were detailed in an official Japanese assessment and later a Washington Post story that cited U.S. intelligence officials and a confidential Defense Intelligence Agency report.
In response, Trump on Tuesday threatened the communist country “with fire and fury.” On Wednesday, the North Korean army said in a statement that it was studying a plan to create an “enveloping fire” in areas around Guam with medium- to long-range ballistic missiles.
But as North Korea inches toward nuclear capability, some Southern Californians have grown more concerned about an attack closer to home.
Californians have already begun to take action: back in May, Ventura County released a series of public service announcements to help people prepare for the unthinkable.
Robert Levin, public health officer for Ventura County, told CBS2 you can survive a limited nuclear blast by remembering one simple message: “get inside, stay inside, stay tuned.”
During the Cold War, Americans were instructed to duck and cover in the event of a nuclear explosion, and that advice still holds true today.
“First you duck, and then you cover,” said Levin. “It’s just really important to know what to do.”
Levin says after a blast, you should try to get as close to the center of a building as you can and stay inside to avoid nuclear fallout.
If you do get covered in fallout, don’t panic, immediately remove any contaminated clothing, and rinse your body using soap and shampoo.
“Once they wash and shampoo out of the shower, they’re 99 percent free of any fallout,” said Levin.
Some are taking precautions to a different level.
Brian Fowler with Atlas Survivor Shelters in Montebello said he’s never been busier selling underground bomb shelters to people all over the world.
The steel shelters are installed 20 feet below ground and range in price from $19,000 to $165,000, and can have features as luxurious as showers, couches and big-screen TVs.
“You want to make sure you’re prepared today for what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Fowler said.
So who’s buying them?
“You never know what’s going to happen in the future, so we want one to be secure,” said one woman who did not want her identity revealed to keep her shelter a secret.
But according to Tillerson, Americans need not be too worried.
“I do not believe that there is any imminent threat,” Tillerson told reporters aboard the plane. “What we’re hopeful is that this pressure campaign (including sanctions), which the entire world now has joined us in, and with the engagement of China and Russia, two of North Korea’s closest neighbors — that they can begin to persuade the regime that they needed to reconsider the current pathway they’re on and think about engaging in a dialogue about a different future.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)