Disaster Awareness

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Disaster Awareness is an approach undertaken to make communities aware of hazards surrounding them, and more importantly to inform them to better prepare for them.

Disasters affect thousands of people each year on a personal, business, local community or national level. The golden rule for successful disaster management at all levels is to increase awareness, develop actions plans and practice them. Waiting for a disaster to take place is not the right time to plan. Communicating and building relationships with those around you, whether they contribute actively to the plan or are dependent on it, will have the most significant and positive affect in determining your resiliency throughout an event.

Having known the paramount importance of Disaster Awareness, the National Disaster Centre wish to share valuable awareness materials (brochures & posters) that have been developed through this mode. The materials are downloadable and distributable.

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What is a flood? Inland flooding results from heavy and prolonged rainfall, when the water level in rivers and streams rises over the banks and inundates the surrounding land. There are three different types:

  1. Flash Floods occur within a few hours of torrential rains with little or no warning and dissipate rapidly. This is the most common form of flooding in most parts of Papua New Guinea.
  2. Rapid Onset Floods occur within several hours of heavy rainfall, can last several days and are specific to medium-sized river catchments.
  3. Slow Onset Floods occur gradually over a fairly long period of time and are only characteristic of large river systems.

Coastal flooding is a separate hazard which occurs when storm surges, waves and/or extremely high tidal levels inundate low-lying coastal areas.>> DOWNLOAD FLOOD INFORMATION BROCHURE

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A volcano is a vent or chimney which transfers molten rock known as magma from depth to the Earth’s surface. Magma erupting from a volcano is called lava and is the material which builds up the cone surrounding the vent.

A volcano is active if it is erupting lava, releasing gas or generates seismic activity. A volcano is dormant if it has not erupted for a long time but could erupt again in the future. Once a volcano has been dormant for more than 10,000 years, it is termed extinct. The size and shape of a volcano reflect how often it erupts, the size and type of eruptions, and the composition of the magma it produces.

Papua New Guinea has 16 active and at least 28 potentially active or ‘dormant’ volcanoes which are a potential danger to the lives of about a quarter of a million people living in a total area of 16, 000 square kilometers.
Of the 16 active volcanoes, 6 of them are classified as high-risk volcanoes. High-risk in the sense that

  1. they have had explosive eruptions in the past and have the potential of repeating these eruptions in future
  2. there are now a lot of people living around these volcanoes and
  3. there are economic activities located near these volcanoes such as Palm Oil plantations, logging industries, Sawmills, cocoa and copra plantations etc.

The 6 high-risk volcanoes in Papua New Guinea are Rabaul in ENB, Ulawun and Pago in WNB, Karkar and Manam in Madang, and Mount Lamington in Oro. >> Volcano Map of PNG

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What is a Tsunami?
A tsunami (a Japanese word meaning “harbour wave”) is a series of waves, travelling at speeds of over 800 km/h in the deep ocean and often going unnoticed. They travel harmlessly until they reach the shallow water of a coastline where they slow down and steepen, cresting to heights of more than 10 m and can crash with devastating force across the shore, flooding low-lying areas and causing death and severe destruction.

Any disturbance that shifts a large volume of water away from its normal position can generate a tsunami. The most common cause of a tsunami is an offshore earthquake, which can cause the sea floor to abruptly lift or subside. This can disturb the overlying water column and possibly lead to a tsunami.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

Tsunami can strike any coastline in the Pacific — warnings apply to YOU. For tsunami survival remember the following three warning signs:

  1. An earthquake
  2. Any unusual change in sea level
  3. A ROARING noise

Upon noticing the warning signs:

  • RUN to a safe place
  • Do not wait to be told
  • Do not wait until you see the wave — that is too late because the wave travels faster than you can run.

YOU ARE SAFE FROM THE WAVE AS LONG AS YOU ARE SEVERAL KILOMETRES FROM THE WATER’S EDGE OR ARE ON HIGH GROUND.
>> Download Tsunami Awareness Poster

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