I’m often asked: “What’s the difference between the call out siren and the tsunami warning?”
In New Zealand we don’t have a warning system linked to NZFS sirens.
A tsunami is a series of powerful ocean surges that is caused by a large volume of the ocean being displaced – often by an undersea earthquake.
Most tsunamis resemble very strong, fast tides, rather than waves. These can penetrate a long way inland. Much of the damage from tsunamis is caused by the strong currents and floating debris.
Tsunamis have caused an incredible amount of damage around the world in recent years and lessons have been learned. To survive a tsunami, you must be vigilant, prepared and remain calm. Consider whether you live somewhere that could potentially face a tsunami. Much of Mapua is low lying and potentially at risk.
If a tsunami is expected grab something warm get to the top of the nearest hill. If you’re super-organised you’ll have a grab bag with essential clothing and provisions. Store essential materials in an easy-to-obtain location. If a tsunami does hit, you’ll need survival items and you’ll need them fast.
A safety pack will contain a minimum of food, water and a first aid kit. Keep the safety pack somewhere obvious and easy to grab in an emergency, also ensure the location is well-known to everyone in the building. It can also help to leave a raincoat or other coat for each person near the safety pack.
Abandon belongings. If that tsunami does hit, save lives, not possessions. Trying to retrieve possessions may hamper your escape. Just grab your safety pack, something to keep you and your family warm and leave immediately.
All of New Zealand’s coastline is at risk from tsunamis.
If you live near the coast:
1. Know the risks to your property: contact your local council and ask to see their tsunami evacuation zone maps. Also ask what official warning methods will be used in your area if a tsunami is imminent.
2. Know where the nearest high ground is (at least 35 metres above sea level) and have a plan for how to get there quickly.
3. Prepare an emergency plan and survival kit.
Warnings may come in the form of:
What to do:
1. If you’re near the coast, leave for higher ground immediately.
2. If you can’t get higher, go at least 1.5 kilometres inland.
Walk or bike if possible. If you travel by car, you may get caught in a traffic jam. If you do need to drive, keep going until you’re well out of the evacuation zone, to make room for others behind you. If you decide to leave your car and walk, park it off the road.
As you run out the door, grab your getaway kit.
3. If you can’t get to higher ground, go to an upper storey or climb onto a roof or tree.
1. Most tsunamis have a number of surges (‘waves’) – not just one – and the first is often not the largest. Therefore, you must stay in your safe place for many hours after the first wave.
Wait until you get an official ‘all clear’ before returning to lower ground or the coast.
2. If you get caught in the tsunami, try to get out of the water and onto a floating object.
1. Keep informed by listening to the radio.
2. When re-entering your home, check for damage and if you can, take photos for insurance purposes.
Tsunami survivors act quickly!