25 Sep 2018

Tsunami warning sirens will be tested this Sunday, providing a timely reminder of the importance of residents knowing the correct evacuation zone for their home.

The tsunami sirens – installed from Brooklands to Taylors Mistake – will be sounded for up to three minutes at 11am.

One of the tsunami sirens.

The tsunami sirens will be tested on Sunday at 11am.

Christchurch City Council Head of Civil Defence and Emergency Management Rob Orchard says the sirens are tested twice a year to coincide with daylight saving changes.

“We need to check that the sirens are operating correctly to ensure the urgent notification of any tsunami threat to the Christchurch community, particularly those people living and working in coastal and riverside areas,” Mr Orchard says.

“The safety exercise also presents the opportunity to remind residents in coastal and riverside areas to check their tsunami evacuation zones(external link) and to work out a plan with their family so that everyone knows what to do and where to go if there is a tsunami evacuation.

“It’s important to plan the best route to evacuate from your home or workplace, and check whether your neighbours or friends may need help to leave the area.

“Remember that it’s best to go beyond the edge of the zone to ensure there is plenty of space for those still to leave.”

People living or working in either the red or the orange zones need to evacuate immediately if they feel a long or strong earthquake, or advised to leave by Civil Defence.

The red zone includes the estuary, rivers, beaches and harbours while the orange evacuation zone covers the low-lying areas near the coast.

“However, those people living in the yellow zone only need to evacuate if advised under an official tsunami warning by Civil Defence,” Mr Orchard says.

“Of course, you can choose to leave the yellow evacuation zone for your own peace of mind.”

Residents in all three tsunami evacuation zones should be prepared and ready to leave so people can evacuate safely in a tsunami warning.

A warning may stay in place for some time, so residents need to have an emergency bag ready to go.

“Pack the essentials, particularly medication, glasses, family documentation – such as a driver’s licence and passport – and supplies for babies and pets,” Mr Orchard says.

If a tsunami is triggered by a very large earthquake closer to New Zealand, there may not be enough time to activate the sirens, which is why people are encouraged to adhere to the national tsunami message – “Long or strong, get gone”.