New Zealand: Get ready on World Tsunami Awareness Day

Source(s): New Zealand - government

By the Honourable Kris Faafoi

World Tsunami Awareness Day today (Monday 5) is an opportunity for New Zealanders to find out more about tsunamis and how to prepare for them, Minister of Civil Defence Hon Kris Faafoi says.

“All of New Zealand’s coast line is at risk of tsunami. For most of us that means we live near, or visit places that are at risk. So we all need to know the right action to take.

“World Tsunami Awareness Day is a good time to learn more about your tsunami risk, know how to prepare and to update your plan to keep your family safe.

“Check out the tsunami evacuation zones for your area and make sure you know where to go, whether you are at home, at work or out and about. Plan and practise your evacuation route on foot or bike.

“Make sure you know the natural warning signs of a tsunami. Local source tsunami generated close to the New Zealand coast may arrive in just minutes. If you feel a long or strong earthquake, don’t wait for an official warning – if it’s long or strong, get gone.”

While the Long or Strong, Get Gone advice is vital for felt earthquakes, not all tsunami will be preceded by a felt earthquake – including some that originate close to New Zealand. For example, tsunami can be caused by volcanic eruptions or landslides, and recent research from GNS Science has shown that earthquakes generated in the Kermadec Trench may not be felt strongly, but could generate a tsunami that may arrive in as little as an hour. In such scenarios, warnings will be issued as soon as a tsunami threat is identified to ensure that the public have earliest possible notice to self-evacuate.

“This is why it’s important to know the different ways to stay informed if there is an emergency. Know which radio stations to listen to, which websites and social media to follow, get to know your neighbours, and check whether your phone can receive Emergency Mobile Alerts,” Mr. Faafoi says.

Media can also access Tsunami Warnings: A Guide for Media by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management here.

Long or Strong, Get Gone:  If you’re near the coast and experience any of the following:

  • Feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or a weak rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more
  • See a sudden rise or fall in sea level
  • Hear loud and unusual noises from the sea

Don’t wait for an official warning; move immediately to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible.

You’ll need to self-evacuate: In a local source tsunami, there won’t be time for emergency services to go door to door to coordinate evacuations. You must be prepared to self-evacuate.

Know your route: Check out your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group’s website for your local tsunami evacuation zone maps.  Links to all CDEM Groups can be found here. Practise your route.

Staying safe means staying informed: It is unlikely there will be an official warning before the first waves hit, they will be issued as swiftly as possible.  Know where to get information. Listen to the radio for updates. Warnings and evacuation maps will be issued via Emergency Mobile Alerts, the Civil Defence website, news media, @NZCivilDefence Twitter and NZCivilDefence Facebook.

Plan ahead if self-evacuation is a problem: If you have a disability or special requirements, make arrangements with your support network to alert you of any warnings and to help you evacuate.

Hīkoi not convoy: If possible, run, walk or cycle when evacuating from a tsunami. You don’t want to get stuck in traffic in a tsunami zone.

Have a grab bag ready: Have a grab bag ready with food, water, warm clothes, a battery powered radio, and anything else you might need.

Don’t forget animals: If you have pets, domestic animals or livestock, include them in your evacuation planning.

About World Tsunami Awareness Day

A tsunami is a series of waves caused by large earthquakes and the waves can grow to become a fast moving wall of water. In the past 100 years, more than 260,000 people have lost their lives in 58 separate tsunami across the world. At an average of 4,600 deaths per disaster, the toll is greater than any other natural hazard.

In December 2015, the UN General Assembly designated 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day. The UN General Assembly has called on all countries, international bodies and civil society to observe the day, in order to raise tsunami awareness and share innovative approaches to risk reduction.

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