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Disasters: Don’t think ‘if’, think ‘when’

Disasters: Don’t think ‘if’, think ‘when’

The recent tsunami which has devastated parts of Asia has raised awareness throughout the world of tsunami’s and the impact a natural disaster can have. So what is the likelihood of a tsunami here, and how well equipped is the Auckland region to deal with a tidal wave hitting?

Natural disasters such as tsunami’s can strike at any time, and often with little or no warning.

If there is a large earthquake off the west coast of South America within the next 50 years, there is a 50% chance that a tsunami could result and hit Auckland. An earthquake in other parts of the Pacific, such as the west coast of Alaska or the east coast of Japan, could also result in a tsunami that could hit the Auckland region.

Natural disasters cannot be prevented but some simple steps can be taken to help minimise the impact and to better equip people to cope.

Over recent days councils throughout the Auckland region have been answering calls from members of the public wanting to know how to get more information and what to do in a disaster.

Jim Stephens of the Auckland Region Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, which is charged with ensuring that region-wide plans, systems and processes are in place to ensure a co-ordinated response in the event of a large scale emergency in the Auckland region, says that it is good to see people taking an interest in ensuring they are better equipped to deal with a disaster. There are a number of things people can do to be better prepared:

Read the back of the Yellow Pages. There is a significant amount of helpful information about emergencies.

Have a ‘B Ready’ kit ready, which includes key survival equipment (e.g. radio and batteries, torch, water - 3 litres per person/day, food). More information is available online at www.auckland.cdemg.org.nz or by phoning 0800 22 22 00.

Know your hazards and plan to avoid them (e.g. falling objects, loss of water and power, evacuating your home). More information is available online at www.arc.govt.nz/environment/hazards.

In an emergency, listen to the radio for information and make sure you and your home are safe.

“We all need to think ahead, and to take steps towards having a ‘B Ready’ Kit on hand just in case. Being prepared is all about thinking of ‘when’, not ‘if’”, says Mr Stephens.

If a disaster does happen, response and assistance will be provided by Police, Fire and Ambulance services, Government departments such as Civil Defence and the Ministry for the Environment as well as volunteers from the community.

It is Civil Defence’s job to co-ordinate all activity when a disaster hits, but the overall success of the region’s ability to cope relies heavily on how prepared individuals, families and communities are. Emergency management is everyone’s business.

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