Learn how to stay safe on World Tsunami Awareness Day

Civil Defence Minister Hon Peeni Henare says World Tsunami Awareness Day today (5 November) is a chance for all New Zealanders to learn more about the tsunami risk in our regions and the right actions to take to stay safe.

“All of New Zealand’s coastline is at risk of tsunami. For most of us that means we live near, or visit places that are at risk,” Peeni Henare said.

“Fortunately, most of the tsunami New Zealand experiences aren’t large enough to flood land areas and cause major destruction. But that’s no reason to be complacent. Even small tsunami can generate strong currents and surges that can result in injury or death.

“Tsunami waves aren’t like normal ocean waves, they’re far more powerful and getting caught in one would be like being in a washing machine. They are a danger to swimmers, surfers, people fishing, small boats and anyone in or near the water close to shore.

“This is why the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management advises people in or near the sea to move out of the water, off beaches and shore areas and away from harbours, rivers and estuaries when tsunami activity is expected.

When a larger tsunami that could cause flooding of land areas is expected, people will need to move out of tsunami evacuation zones. An Emergency Mobile Alert will be issued to areas under threat and warnings will be provided via radio, TV and on www.civildefence.govt.nz .

For a local source tsunami, which could arrive in minutes, there won’t be time for an official warning. It is important to recognise the natural warning signs and act quickly.

If you are at the coast and experience any of the following:

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

Move immediately to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as you can.

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.

“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,” Peeni Henare said.

Find out how to get tsunami ready at www.getready.govt.nz

Note to editors

The warnings below may be reproduced.

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

Staying safe means staying informed: 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, and @NZCivilDefence Twitter.

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.