Sound familiar? It's not an air raid

NEWPORT BEACH — Three emergency sirens that can be heard for a mile and a half will soon be installed in different city parks.

The California Coastal Commission recently approved the color of the poles on top of which the sirens will be installed in West Newport, Veterans Memorial and West Jetty View parks, according to a map provided by Katie Eing, Newport Beach's emergency services coordinator.

The original intent of the sirens, which sound a lot like the old air raid sirens from World War II, was to warn residents of an approaching tsunami so that everybody could move to higher ground.

But nowadays the sirens, which rotate 360 degrees, can be used to alert the public about any danger or disaster that would require immediate evacuation such as a gas leak or a wildfire, Eing said.

Hearing the sirens can also serve as a signal for residents to tune into emergency broadcasts on TV and radio.

It's all part of Newport Beach's emergency disaster plan, which includes a computer-generated, telephone-calling system that automatically dials 108,000 telephone numbers in the city's disaster data base and dispatches a police helicopter to announce to the estimated 88,000 Newport Beach residents that something bad could happen.

Eing said the large number of telephone numbers is due, in part, to the high number of businesses in town.

Eing said the city will be educating the public in the next couple of months on precautions to take during major natural disasters.

"If you're walking on the beach and you feel the Earth shake hard for 20 seconds, then you should get off the beach and move to higher ground," she said, adding that Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian is considered the city's the "safe zone."

Eing said there are many variables to a tsunami, and that, generally speaking, residents will have five to six hours to evacuate if the series of waves are generated from an earthquake that's far away, say, off the coast of Chile, as was the case in February.

After that earthquake, a tsunami advisory was issued for some California coastal cities, including Newport Beach, but the tidal surge only amounted to a half a foot, city officials said.

If you are resident who has not placed your telephone or cell phone number in the city's emergency data base, you may do so at

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