It was a message that would be enough to make anyone's blood run cold. When residents of New Jersey's Salem County tuned into their favorite show they received an emergency warning that they have prayed they'd never see.
"A civil authority has issued A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT WARNING," the message read just before 10:00 p.m.
Cumberland County and Salem County were named as the areas affected. Salem County houses the Salem Nuclear Power Plant, and many residents live in fear of a Chernobyl-live disaster. For many of the 215,000 residents the warning was like something out of their worst nightmares.
Fortunately the warning was a mistake, although one of colossal proportions. The message was actually part of a training exercise, and was supposed to only be delivered to a select few households to ensure that the emergency broadcast system worked.
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management was in charge of the drill, and quickly worked to remedy their mistake.
"The message was intended for a small group of emergency management personnel who were participating in the exercise," the agency said in a statement. "As a result of a coding error, the message was publicly broadcast."
The counties are close to major cities like Philadelphia and Wilmington, so the mistake quickly could have turned into a disaster of a different sort.
Cumberland County reacted quickly to try to prevent a panicked evacuation. They used their SwiftReach reverse 911 alert system to inform residents of the false alarm. In less than an hour over 70,000 calls were made to residents mistakenly alerted.
This day and age makes it easier than ever to connect people, and this event shows both the bad and the good of that.