Distribution of the Warning Message
The following flow chart illustrates how the alert message will reach the people once the watch or warning signal is activated.
» The Route of the Alert Message1
Receipt of the warning message is imperative for evacuation. It is therefore essential that the warning message reach as many people as possible as well as a few important organizations. Not only should everyone in danger be warned of the tsunami but also they should be warned in multiple ways to guarantee that they effectively respond to the warning2
»National Organizations (including emergency response organizations, geophysical institutes, the national government and coastal organizations):
National organizations will receive tsunami watch alerts directly from the in-country tsunami headquarters by shortwave tone alert radio. When the international tsunami headquarters has analyzed the data and determined that a tsunami warning should be issued, these organizations will be notified through updated tone-alert radio messages and from telephone calls from the scientists at the international tsunami headquarters.
»Coastal Workers (people on boats and docks):
Coastal workers will receive warning and watch messages from the coastal and navigational organizations via marine radio. They will also hear the sirens located along the coast.
»Private Organizations (jails, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, hotels, shopping centers):
Private organizations will receive warnings and watch messages by automatic dialer as well as by siren. There will be volunteers within the organization (link to ICS part of website) who will help their people in these areas evacuate. These people will be well trained in evacuation procedures and will be able to supply additional information to the people in these areas.
»General Public (people in residential areas, on beaches, in the streets, in the outskirts):
The general public will receive watch and warning messages through commercial media, manual notification by local officials and sirens. Since individuals will, for the most part, be responsible for evacuating themselves, they need to have enough information to get themselves to safety. Since sirens do not supply any information besides the existence of an approaching tsunami and not everyone has access to commercial media, the general public needs to be warned in other ways. For this reason, every community in Peru and Micronesia no matter its size must have a local official or organization (hereafter called Evacuation Personnel, see the Chain of Command section
for more details) responsible for supplementing the automatic warning mechanisms in their community by manually warning the community of approaching tsunamis.
The Evacuation Personnel will have tone-alert radios from which they will receive watch and warning messages and ongoing updated information on the tsunami. From that point, they have several options depending on the resources available to them and make-up of their community. In large, urbanized communities, many people will receive the warning through commercial media and word of mouth. In this case, the Evacuation Personnel will be useful directing people in the streets and where to go. In smaller communities with less access to commercial media, the Evacuation Personnel will warn people in person by knocking on doors, driving vehicles carrying loud speakers and telephoning homes and small organizations. In the case where the Evacuation Personnel feel that part of the community cannot hear the sirens (this should not be the case but could happen in the case of technical failure or lack of appropriate resources) they should ring church bells and/or use manually activated sirens if available.
It is impossible to plan a single system of warning of the general public because of the vast differences between communities. One thing that stays constant though is the need to plan manual warning routes in advance. If the Evacuation Personnel find that they will not be able to adequately warn their populations in 20 minutes they must inform the Warning Director
to be provided with the warning mechanisms they need to be able to warn their population.
Existing Warning Protocols
Peru has existing emergency warning protocols that are published on the Internet. The existing system deals with warning on the national level but not on the local level. Peru's warning system consisted solely of notifying coastal and navigational agencies, emergency response agencies, the Peruvian geophysical institute and the Peruvian government, which would then notify the citizens. The plan does not contain information on how the citizens would receive the warning message. We have incorporated Peru's warning system into our system.
There is scarce information on Micronesia's existing warning systems at the local level or the national level, so we are assuming that our system will be the only system in place. Micronesia's social and political infrastructure is locally based to a large extent. This is conducive to having a functional local alert system.
We have created two levels of warning corresponding to the severity of threat posed by a tsunami. Having well-defined criteria for each level and a clear policy for how the warning system should be used during an emergency of each level will lessen confusion and provide for expedient use of the system during an emergency.
» Tsunami Warning
This level will be issued in case of utmost emergency and would indicate the necessity of immediate evacuation. Citizens need to be prepared for immediate relocation. Activation of a tsunami warning will include all types of warning (tone-alert radio, shortwave activated sirens, commercial media, text messaging, automatic dialers, manual warning and marine radio).
» Tsunami Watch
This lower level will be used to alert the populace when a tsunami will be effecting a nearby region, when a tsunami has been detected but it will not reach the coast for several hours and when buoys or seismographs have detected an abnormality but the data has not be analyzed yet at the international tsunami headquarters. In the first case, people would be asked to prepare to take in refugees from the effected area, or to send supplies or aid workers to the effected area. In the second case, the watch would be broadcasted repeatedly and raised to the warning level a few hours before the tsunami's impact. In the third case, the message will tell people to prepare to themselves to evacuate, watch for warning updates but only to evacuate if they want to. When operating at this level, the warning system would not need to reach every single person, so the sirens would not be activated. However, all other components of the warning system will be activated but the messages will indicate a watch and not a warning. In the case of a watch, Warning Personnel would be required to notify their populations to make the necessary preparations for evacuations.
The Warning Message:4
» Media: Commercial Radio, Loud Speakers, Automatic Dialer, Internet, Television, Text- Message:
Message: "Evacuate Now! This is not a test. Large Tsunami to hit 11 PM. Evacuate all coastal zones in La Libertad, Ancash and Lima by order of the Authorities. Follow evacuation signs to higher ground. Take with you only your identification papers and your evacuation kit.”
Message: “Authorities have been tracking a tsunami in the Pacific waters. Everyone along the coast is strongly advised to stay away from beaches and low elevation areas. Please be on the watch for further updates and be prepared to evacuate.”
» Media: Tone Alert Radio
Message:"Evacuate all civilians NOW! Large Tsunami to hit 11 PM. Evacuate all coastal zones in La Libertad, Ancash and Lima by order of the Authorities. Activate all manual warning systems. Use Evacuation Personnel as neccessary.”
Message: “Authorities have been tracking a tsunami in the Pacific waters. Please advise people to stay away from beaches and low elevation areas. Be on the watch for further updates and get the personnel and resources ready in case there is an evacuation.”