School lifejackets in case of tsunami

22:31, Aug 24 2012

Tsunami risks have prompted a coastal Christchurch primary school to buy lifejackets for its pupils.

After reviewing its health and safety policy, South New Brighton School used school funds and a donation to purchase 400 lifejackets for staff and students, which are stored in wheelie bins outside each of the classrooms. 

The school is located two blocks from the ocean and also borders the estuary.

School principal John Bockett told The Star the precaution was similar to "life jackets and flotation devices in airplanes - it's just in case".

"We are dealing with lots of precious wee lives and even though the chance of having a localised tsunami is very slim, it is important for us to be prepared,'' he said.

"If a earthquake happened in South America we would have 15 hours to evacuate. In that scenario parents come to the school and pick up their children.

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"In the event of a national earthquake, say in Gisborne, we would have two hours to evacuate to the Bridge St roundabout and meet council buses to transport us,'' he said.

Two families had withdrawn their children from the school when the life jackets were introduced, but Bockett said the majority of parents applauded the school's initiative.

Wendy McLintock, a parent of two children at the school, was hesitant about the life jackets at first but decided if was better to be prepared.

"I did have mixed feelings but I figured they are damned if they do and damned if they didn't - if something did happen how would I feel if they weren't there.

 "This is the safest school in terms of preparedness - they have just been amazing through out the earthquakes looking after the students,'' she told The Star.

Water Safety New Zealand general manager Alex Brunt said he had not heard of any other schools in New Zealand who had lifejackets in case of a tsunami, but said it sounded like a good idea.

The Press