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.
In December 2015, the UN General Assembly designated 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day and the day is observed in order to raise tsunami awareness and share innovative approaches to risk reduction.
A tsunami is a series of waves caused by large earthquakes and the waves can grow to become a fast moving wall of water.
“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,” says Civil Defence Minister Hon Peeni Henare.
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.
“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.”
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.
Long or Strong, Get Gone. 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.
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.
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 .
Find out how to get tsunami ready at www.getready.govt.nz