Tsunami walk set for April 1

(Via Ho’okele News)

It isn’t rare to hear sirens on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam from time to time. Most of the sirens we hear are the monthly statewide tsunami siren tests or the giant voice mass notification system.

On April 1, in conjunction with the monthly tsunami siren test, the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Department of Emergency Management will host their one-mile long “Walk to Safety.”

Slated for 11:30 a.m. on the waterfront at Aloha Aina Park, adjacent to the Wright Brothers Café here on base, the walk is meant to be fun but is certainly not an April Fools’ Day prank.

The event is being held by the JBPHH Department of Emergency Management to raise tsunami awareness and demonstrate that in the event of an actual tsunami, servicemembers and their families can “walk to safety” in less than 30 minutes if need be.

Participants will walk from Aloha Aina Park down Signer Street to the softball fields near the Hickam Fitness Center.

“Many people don’t think it (a tsunami warning) matters or applies to them because the mistake people make is thinking ‘I don’t live in an evacuation zone.’ You have to remember Hawaii is surrounded by water and things can go wrong quickly,” said Larry Sabatine, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam deputy emergency manager.

Sabatine said the JBPHH Department of Emergency Management chose a walk because at any time, you could be downtown or on a beach, and hopping in a car might not be the best way to get to safety.

“We are trying to educate the populace and inform them that if they hear the siren, they should immediately get to a location one mile inland, or 50 feet above sea level,” he said. “You don’t need to panic, you just need to walk inland. This is especially important if you are somewhere like downtown Waikiki. Just imagine trying to evacuate and navigate through that type of traffic.”

When you hear the sirens blaring on April 1, remember, it isn’t an elaborate April Fools joke. It is a call for tsunami awareness, something everyone should take seriously.

The Walk to Safety is planned in conjunction with NOAA, state civil defense, City and County of Honolulu departments of emergency management and the American Red Cross.

For more information about the JBPHH Walk to Safety, call Sabatine at 448-2742.

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