On Nov. 12, government announced enhancements and modifications to British Columbia's tsunami notification system (http://goo.gl/lzXcT). The following lays out the specific criteria that will trigger social media and e-mail notification to the public, local authorities, first responders and major provincial media contacts, including those best suited to alert communities at risk of a potential tsunami.
The notification criteria are as follows:
- If the the National Tsunami Warning Centre (NTWC) issues a tsunami watch, advisory or warning, Emergency Management BC's (EMBC) enhanced notification process will be immediately initiated.
- If NTWC issues an earthquake notification that does not result in any tsunami threat, EMBC will not, as a matter of protocol, issue a notification to its greater audience or via social media.
The definitions of the alerts are:
- Tsunami watch: the danger level is not known yet and the public should stay alert for more information.
- Tsunami advisory: strong currents are likely and people should stay away from the shore.
- Tsunami warning: an inundating wave is possible and full evacuation is suggested.
These can be found online at: http://goo.gl/wpj8q
B.C.'s protocol is based on the following key considerations:
- EMBC's focus is on notifying its audience of possible or actual impacts to public safety.
- The science that governs the NTWC tsunami notifications determines whether the public is at any risk. If no watch, advisory or warning is issued, the public can be assured there is no risk.
- This risk level associated with notification is the same threshold used in a number of west coast U.S. states.
- With over 2,000 earthquakes off the B.C. coast in any given year - or more than five per day on average - sending notifications of non-threats may cause a level of complacency that would negatively impact awareness should a tsunami threat actually occur.
Under this protocol, if the NTWC issues a tsunami watch, advisory or warning, EMBC will take the following steps to notify the public and key partners:
- B.C.'s emergency coordination centre (ECC) sends the notification, via email, to a comprehensive and pre-established tsunami alert distribution list. This list includes provincial ministries, Crown corporations, federal agencies, local authorities, key media and first responders.
- The ECC phones EMBC's provincial duty manager and then EMBC's social media unit directly, who will communicate the tsunami notification via Twitter, on @EmergencyInfoBC.
- EMBC activates the emergency management structure, both provincially and regionally.
- The provincial regional emergency operations centre(s) (PREOCs) contact, via phone call, the necessary local authorities, placing priority on those communities at highest risk.
- Local authorities then have overall responsibility for notifying their residents of any risk or evacuation plans, which can be done in a number of ways, including local radio, e-mail distribution, phone trees, door-to-door visits, community sirens or loudspeakers.
- Notification is also sent out through B.C.'s provincial emergency notification system (PENS) to reach local authorities, public safety agencies and key media via landline, fax or e-mail. Additional NTWC notifications will also be sent out through PENS.
- As new updates arrive, EMBC's social media unit posts the latest verified information to the http://www.EmergencyInfoBC.gov.bc.ca site. Links to these posts will be tweeted.
- Activation of the provincial and regional emergency management structure will continue until the cancellation of all tsunami alerts is communicated via PENS. This will also be conveyed via social media.
To receive alerts directly:
- If you would like to receive tsunami email notifications, you can sign up here: http://ow.ly/p1ZGB
- Follow @NWS_NTWC and @EmergencyInfoBC on Twitter, or text 'follow NWS_NTWC and 'follow EmergencyInfoBC' to 21212 to receive SMS updates
- Get more detailed instructions on signing up for Twitter SMS alerts: http://ow.ly/f8slJ
- Visit http://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca for the latest emergency information
- Set your smartphone app that manages RSS notifications to include EMBC's blog feed: http://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/atom.xml
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice