Maybe you missed this? Tsunami warnings.
It turns out that last week, March 27-31, was California’s 2017 Tsunami Preparedness Week. While you may think tsunamis don’t apply to you personally, WAIT before you click away!
Who could find themselves in a Tsunami Danger Zone?
Maybe a LOT more people than you think!
In the U.S. several states are at risk for tsunamis: Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California. And think of the US business travelers and tourists heading to Japan, Thailand, Singapore!
You could easily find yourself caught up in a tsunami inundation zone, anywhere in the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire” countries.
My son was caught in the tsunami that hit the Pacific in 2004. He was vacationing in Thailand. As he reported it live on Larry King (!), he saw a “strange long wave” forming way out in the bay. He even paused to take a photo without realizing that the wave was bearing down on the beach much faster than he could run.
Yes, he was caught, washed off his feet and pushed into a building, where he was able to clamber up above the water and wait until it went down. He was young and strong and lucky. He lost only a shoe and a camera.
Over 230,000 people around the Indian Ocean weren’t so lucky. They lost their lives. This little map shows just how far that tsunami reached!
That was in 2004, and many Americans really didn’t know how to recognize a tsunami.
My son didn’t. He would now, though, and you should be able to, too.
Do you know these three telltale warning signs?
1-A tsunami is typically caused by an earthquake. So, if you feel one, or hear news about one – or about a volcanic eruption, a big landslide or even a meteor hit – you need to be ready to act immediately.
2-You may not feel the earthquake, but you may see water receding, dead fish on the beach, or even hear the sound of an approaching wave.
3-You may see the giant tsunami wave approaching. It can be as high as 100 ft. and travel at 500 miles per hour! Often, the longer the tsunami travels, and the closer it gets to shore, the bigger and stronger the waves get. They don’t look like a regular wave that crests and breaks. Rather, the wave is more like a line of foam being pushed by a half-submerged building.
What to do if you see or expect a tsunami.
There’s no way to outrun a tsunami if you are on the ground when it hits. The only safely lies in getting away, to higher ground, BEFORE it hits. That means:
Heed tsunami warnings. In the United States, an NOAA Weather Radio might be the first to broadcast an alert. (Check out NOAA radios here.) Local radio and TV stations will also be issuing warnings. Some places have tsunami warning sirens.
Instantly get to high ground. Tsunami waves can reach far inland, carrying debris and destruction. Your goal is to get out of its clutches entirely by getting far away from the beach (often not possible), or by getting and staying above the height of the water. A hill or mountain is best; if necessary, climb to the fourth floor or roof of a steel-reinforced building.
Yes, some people have survived by climbing trees, but in many cases the trees are simply not tall enough to provide safety.
If you’re in a boat when the earthquake hits or you hear a tsunami warning, you have several options depending on how much lead time you have. No lead time? Head for a depth of 50 fathoms (300 ft) or more and monitor your radio. Boat owners, get more important details at http://files.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dobor/contacts/Plan-TSUNAMI.pdf
Stay in a safe place until all danger has passed. This could mean for several hours or even days. A tsunami is made up of many waves; don’t assume it’s over once waters have receded after the first big wave hits. People returning to their homes or to port to save personal items have been caught by the second wave.
How to prepare before a tsunami hits.
If you live in a potential tsunami zone, or are simply visiting, here are recommendations from the California Dept. of Conservation and from Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources:
- Know if you are in a tsunami zone. In the US, you can check at http://www.tsunamizone.org/knowyourzone/. Or check the World Map at http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-maps/tsunami-zones.html
- Find out what warnings you might expect from the community. Make sure everyone in your group knows what they are.
- Study the recommended evacuation routes – from your home, hotel and/or office. (Familiarize yourself with the signs, shown at the beginning of this Advisory.)
- Practice your evacuation route, particularly in an unfamiliar city. Remember, the tsunami could hit at night, knocking out all lights. It could also knock out bridges or roads, so you might need an alternate route to get to high ground. Everyone needs to understand the evacuation route, since you will not have time to track down other family members before you set out.
- Do you have children in school? Find out about school evacuation procedures.
Have an emergency kit ready, and grab it as you evacuate.
There is no time to pack personal items – you need to grab ONE thing and start moving immediately. Remember, you may have to wait for hours or days before the ALL CLEAR is sounded and you can return to your hotel or home.
Need more encouragement or suggestions? Many organizations sponsor special Tsunami Preparation Days and Weeks. Check this year’s calendar, shown in blue above.
This Advisory has been pretty straightforward and non-dramatic. If you don’t remember the images of the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, it might be worth your while to take a look at these 8 minutes of drama: https://youtu.be/5IKIazZc-a8
The video clip, taken at an ordinary coastal city, starts off slow and easy . . . and then you just can’t believe the water coming, and coming, and coming . . . 8 minutes will give you an unforgettable idea of how a tsunami really behaves.
Pass along this information to friends and family – and stay safe! When World Tsunami Awareness Day comes on November 5, think back to some of the details you learned about here!
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team
P.S. While we’re talking about tsunamis and earthquakes, did you know that April 26 is National Richter Scale Day!
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