Civil Defence  |  16 Oct 2020

Christchurch City Council is looking at options for upgrading the city’s 45 tsunami warning sirens to make them compliant with the national standard.

The Council installed the sirens, which are located along the coastline between Brooklands and Taylors Mistake, in two stages between 2012 and 2014. 

The sirens are regularly tested to ensure they are working properly. However, the noise they make does not comply with the tone set in the National Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA’s) Technical Standard that was issued in July 2014.

“Our sirens don’t comply with two of components of the Technical Standard but they are still an effective tool that we can use to alert people near the coast that a tsunami might be coming,’’ says Christchurch City Council Head of Civil Defence Emergency Management Rob Orchard.

“The sirens though are only one of the tools we would use if a tsunami was coming our way.

“If we get information that a distant source tsunami generated from across the Pacific Ocean or a regional source tsunami generated from the eastern North Island is likely to hit our coastline, we will use all available channels to get that message out to the public.

“If you hear the tsunami sirens, check if there is an official tsunami warning for your zone (red, orange or yellow). The warning is given on the radio, television, social media or through an Emergency Mobile Alert to your phone. If there is an announcement to evacuate the zone you are in, follow the instructions immediately,'' Mr Orchard says.

“If there is a local source tsunami, we will not have time to activate the sirens. In that case, the best warning sign is the earthquake itself.  If you are near the coast and you experience a strong earthquake that is difficult to stand up in, or lasts for a minute or more, you should immediately move to higher ground or as far inland as possible.’’

Mr Orchard says he is investigating how Christchurch’s sirens could be upgraded so they comply with NEMA’s Technical Standard. He will bring a report back to the Sustainability and Community Resilience Committee.

Find out about tsunami evacuation zones and routes.