What to do during a Tsunami warning?

What to do during a Tsunami warning?

Afflicting coastal communities around the world, tsunamis are large wave surges that are caused by disturbances such as volcanic eruptions, landslides or earthquakes. Given that they’re typically caused by hard-to-predict events, it’s difficult to know exactly when a tsunami might strike. So, if you happen to live in a coastal region that could potentially be subjected to tsunamis, then it’s important that you prepare in advance. Here are a few suggestions on how to prepare for a possible tsunami.

What is a tsunami?

Tsunamis are large wave surges that are caused by events such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. When a large event, like an earthquake, displaces a large amount of water, that displaced water will travel until it hits land. Derived from the Japanese words for harbor (tsu) and wave (nami), tsunamis are found throughout the world (though they’re most common in the Pacific), and they’ve been observed and recorded throughout history. In fact, according to NOAA, one of the first recorded tsunamis occurred in 2000 B.C.E just off of Syria.

How to prepare for a tsunami?

Preparing for a tsunami is relatively straightforward. If you live in a coastal region, you need to prepare an evacuation route ahead of time. Most coastal community governments have an evacuation route pre-planned out, so make sure to study up on the route as soon as possible. Generally speaking, tsunamis are made up of a series of large, wave surges—these aren’t cleanly breaking waves that you might see someone surf. Instead, a tsunami is a wave surge—a chaotic wall of water that grows larger as it approaches land. And they can be fairly large. In fact, during the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, some of the initial wave surges reached a height of over 50 meters (or over 160 feet). Also, tsunamis generally consist of a series of waves, not just one. So once the first surge passes, additional waves could follow shortly there after. Because of the size and strength of a tsunami, it’s inadvisable to remain in a home during a tsunami warning. Unless your home is outside of the predicted affected area, it’s best to evacuate immediately. Make sure your car is packed with supplies such as dehydrated meals and water, and make sure that you take an emergency or survival kit (one that features medical supplies) with you in case you don’t have a chance to reach a shelter before the tsunami strikes.

What to do during a tsunami?

However, if don’t have the ability to relocate, or if you’re caught on the beach when a tsunami strikes, then it’s absolutely critical that you seek higher ground immediately. Though tsunami can’t be predicted, there are telltale signs that note that a tsunami is quickly approaching. If you’re standing on the beach, and the waters recede dramatically, exposing rocks, fish and large swaths of ocean floor, then that means that a tsunami is coming. You may only have a few minutes to seek higher ground before it strikes. If you can’t seek out higher ground, don’t seek shelter within a home or residence—most homes would not survive a direct tsunami strike. Instead, as a last resort, find a tall building with reinforced concrete walls, like an office building or hotel, and start climbing floors quickly.

What to do after a tsunami?

As noted previously, tsunamis don’t consist of a single wave surge—there are usually multiple waves, and the surges can last for hours. If you’ve found a safe spot, then stay there until an all-clear message is sounded. Then, follow any evacuation directions provided by NOAA or any government agencies. Don’t return to your home or any building within the impact zone unless the danger has completely passed.

If you hear a tsunami warning for your area, do your best to immediately evacuate. It’s impossible to be truly prepared for an event like a tsunami. But by even studying up on evacuation routes and by purchasing an emergency kit for your car, you’re increasing your and your loved one’s chances of successfully surviving a tsunami.

Sources:
http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/tsunamis/index.asp
http://ptwc.weather.gov/ptwc/faq.php#7

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