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Tsunami warnings: understanding in Hawai'i


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Gregg, CE, Houghton, B, Paton, D, Johnston, DM, Swanson, DA and Yanagi, BS 2007 , 'Tsunami warnings: understanding in Hawai'i' , Natural Hazards, vol. 40, no. 1 , pp. 71-87 , doi: 10.1007/s11069-006-0005-y.

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The devastating southeast Asian tsunami of December 26, 2004 has brought home
the destructive consequences of coastal hazards in an absence of effective warning systems.
Since the 1946 tsunami that destroyed much of Hilo, Hawai‘i, a network of pole mounted
sirens has been used to provide an early public alert of future tsunamis. However, studies in
the 1960s showed that understanding of the meaning of siren soundings was very low and that
ambiguity in understanding had contributed to fatalities in the 1960 tsunami that again
destroyed much of Hilo. The Hawaiian public has since been exposed to monthly tests of the
sirens for more than 25 years and descriptions of the system have been widely published in
telephone books for at least 45 years. However, currently there remains some uncertainty in
the level of public understanding of the sirens and their implications for behavioral response.
Here, we show from recent surveys of Hawai‘i residents that awareness of the siren tests and
test frequency is high, but these factors do not equate with increased understanding of the
meaning of the siren, which remains disturbingly low (13%). Furthermore, the length of time
people have lived in Hawai‘i is not correlated systematically with understanding of the
meaning of the sirens.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Gregg, CE and Houghton, B and Paton, D and Johnston, DM and Swanson, DA and Yanagi, BS
Keywords: tsunamis, alerts, warning system, sirens, natural warning signs, Hawai‘i
Journal or Publication Title: Natural Hazards
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
ISSN: 0921-030X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s11069-006-0005-y
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