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Tsunami Preparedness Week, March 23-27, 2020

Tsunami Preparedness Week

Author: Scott Milner, Emergency Services Coordinator
Date: 3/8/2020 12:00:00 AM

Tsunami Preparedness Week, March 23-27, 2020. We can be better prepared for a tsunami by practicing how to protect ourselves when one occurs.

Any coast is vulnerable to tsunamis. Remember, 1) Protect yourself during local earthquakes, 2) Go to high ground or inland, 3) Stay there!

The purpose of Tsunami Preparedness Week is to help people and organizations know how to be prepared for a tsunami, where their tsunami zone is located, how to know when a tsunami is on its way, and how to respond. There are many ways for individuals, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, community groups, scouts, and others to "know your zone" and get prepared for tsunamis. Go to: https://www.tsunamizone.org/howtoparticipate/

What is a tsunami and where do they happen?

A tsunami is a series of waves caused by a large, sudden disturbance of the sea. Undersea earthquakes are the most common cause, but landslides, volcanic activity, certain types of weather, and near-earth objects (e.g., asteroids, comets) can also cause tsunamis.

Most tsunami waves are less than 10 feet high. In extreme events, they can exceed 100 feet. Large tsunamis can flood more than a mile inland. The first wave may not be the largest or most damaging, and the danger may last for hours or days. Tsunamis are a serious threat to life and property. Even small tsunamis can be dangerous, especially to swimmers, surfers, and boats in harbors.

Tsunamis can strike any U.S. coast, but risk is greatest for states and territories with Pacific and Caribbean coastlines. Low-lying areas such as beaches, bays, lagoons, harbors, river mouths, and areas along rivers and streams leading to the ocean are the most vulnerable. Tsunamis can happen any time, any season, and during any weather. They can be generated far away (across the ocean) or locally.

How can I prepare for a tsunami?

It is easy to prepare for a tsunami. Many preparedness actions are common across hazards. If your home, school, workplace, or other places you visit often are in tsunami hazard zones:

  1. Ensure you have multiple ways to receive warnings. Get a NOAA Weather Radio, sign up to receive tsunami alerts, and have a cell phone so you can receive wireless emergency alerts.
  2. Make an emergency plan that includes plans for family communication and evacuation.

Map out routes from home, work, and other places you visit often to safe places on high ground or inland (away from the water) and outside the tsunami hazard zone. Your community may already have identified evacuation routes and assembly areas. Plan to evacuate on foot if you can; roads may be impassable due to damage, closures, or traffic jams.

• Practice walking your routes, even in darkness and bad weather. This will ease evacuation during an emergency.

• Put together a portable disaster supplies kit with items you and your family (including pets) may need in an emergency. Prepare kits for work and cars, too.

• Be a role model. Share your knowledge and plans with others.

If you have children in school in a tsunami hazard zone, find out the school’s plans for evacuating and keeping children safe.


If you are visiting the coast, find out about local tsunami safety. Your hotel or campground should have this information.

What should I do after a tsunami?

  • Stay out of the tsunami hazard zone until officials say it is safe. The cancellation of a warning does not mean danger has passed.
  • Stay out of any building with damage or water around it until a professional or official says it is safe.
  • Get updates and safety instructions from radio, television, or your mobile device (text or data).

Where can I learn more?

Tsunami safety: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/Tsunami/

Tsunami alerts: http://www.tsunami.gov/

Emergency planning: www.ReadySLO.org/Tsunami