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Tsunami Raises Issues of Preparedness

Thursday, 04 May 2006

Tsunami Raises Issues of Preparedness

The head of a New Zealand emergency supplies company has raised concerns over the standard of preparedness of New Zealanders.

Greg Blanchard, Managing Director of Community Emergency Supplies Ltd, is raising concerns over the standard of preparedness of many New Zealanders.

Tsunami warnings often provide very short notice to evacuate to higher ground. The destructive nature of a massive coastal wave leaves very little behind, so when evacuees leave they must take essential survival equipment with them.

Mr Blanchard says that survival equipment must be readily portable but in many instances this is not the case, as people tend to stock up on tinned foods that are inefficient stores of survival nutrients.

We rank tinned foods as inefficient based upon their weight, bulk, and the amount of energy and nutrients they provide, says Blanchard, Because of these weight and bulk issues, in a threatened disaster (such as flooding or tsunami) the urgency to leave home could mean a choice between taking the water or taking the food, but not both.

I am concerned that many New Zealander's have DIY survival kits that weigh a tonne and are unable to be carried quickly over a long distance. An important key to surviving a tsunami or flood is a fast reaction to early warning. The recent scare in the Gisborne area highlights the importance of having a supply of stored water, food, blankets, torch/radio, etc that weighs no more than 12~15kg per person just in case you have to leave your home in a hurry.

Greg Blanchard says his company has raised concerns in the past that the public of New Zealand are being led astray by cowboys who sell survival kits weighing in excess of 40kg.

That's simply not practical when you might have to move several kilometres inland or hundreds of metres uphill.

Mr Blanchard says Community Emergency Supplies is continuing to work on a number of projects to help educate the public on being better prepared for disaster. He says that people can immediately be 200% more prepared if they store some water in soft drink bottles and discuss what to do in a disaster with the people they live with.

More information, along with a downloadable household emergency plan, is available at or from the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management website.


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