Waikato's civil defence leaders are advocating for a national standard for tsunami sirens, despite lingering doubts over the usefulness of siren systems.
The Waikato Region Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group joint committee yesterday agreed to recommend the Government develop a national warning standard for tsunami that could be rolled out across New Zealand.
CEG chairman Langley Cavers said the Waikato region was exposed to serious tsunami risk, particularly along the Coromandel's east coast.
As a consequence, several communities, including Whitianga, Tairua and Pauanui, had installed their own tsunami siren systems. However many systems had been installed by different suppliers, resulting in differing siren tones across the country.
Mr Cavers said a recent Civil Defence and Emergency Management tsunami working party did not support sirens as a primary warning method, saying the most reliable warning system for "local source" tsunami was natural warnings, such as feeling an earthquake.
It was also shown the existence of sirens created a false sense of security or contributed to ignorance due to false alarms.
Last month a tsunami false alarm in Whitianga sent thousands of people into a panic.
Despite the working party's reservations, Mr Cavers said communities were demanding siren systems be installed.
Meanwhile, the Waikato Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group has adopted the "Grab & Go Bag" as its preferred preparedness bag.
The bag includes a host of essential survival items.
PROS: Peace of mind. Early warning for communities. One siren tone recognisable anywhere in the country.
CONS: False alarms can lead to complacency. Need "manual" activation. Not useful for near-source tsunami – natural warnings best indicator. Not 100 per cent reliable. Costly to establish and maintain.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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