EARTHQUAKES: Carry out drills on evacuation plans
ON Boxing Day, 2004 when I felt the tremors from the earthquake in Aceh, I just brushed it off as another temblor in Sumatra. Not until that afternoon when the tsunami reached our shores did I realise the full horror of the quake and that put an end to my complacency.
This time, when tremors were felt in Penang, the first thing I did was to find out if there was going to be a tsunami warning and to locate family members.
This brings me to the interview with Dr Mohd Rosaidi Che Abas of the Malaysian Meteorological Department (New Sunday Times, April 15, 2012).
In the interview Dr Rosaidi informed us that there are tsunami sirens at 23 locations, which will be activated only if evacuation is needed.
There appears to be much work that has been done but I find that there has been scant dissemination of information to the public about this. While it is imperative to have systems to deal with disasters, I think it is equally important to get the population to be prepared for this.
If a siren were to go off today, how will I know that this is a tsunami warning unless I am familiar with it?
Furthermore, what am I supposed to do when I hear it? Anybody having a warning system must ensure that the message gets communicated and the recipient understands the warning and knows what action to take.
I would, therefore, urge that the relevant departments together with the Meteorological Department carry out drills to familiarise the population with the warnings that will be issued and the evacuation plans.
Keeping this information at department level is not going to help us.