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Preparing for Tsunamis

Tsunamis are a series of large waves breaking over the coastal regions.  They can occur almost without warning and cause floods and damage to coastal communities.  Fortunately, they rarely occur.  Storm surges occur more frequently.  Residents, particularly those living in coastal lowlands, should take precautions against this natural phenomenon. 


Quick Facts on Tsunamis
  • Tsunamis are a series of large waves caused by events such as underwater earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and less frequently, meteor impacts.  Tsunamis can also occur in large lakes.
  • They can occur practically without warning in oceans and large lakes.
  • A tsunami may be caused by a large high energy but relatively short-lived disturbance in the ocean floor.  Tsunami waves can travel the ocean at speeds of 500 mph, comparable to the speed of a jet plane.
  • As tsunami waves approach the shore, both their depth and speed decrease but their height increases as their length decreases.  In twenty meters of water, these waves can reach speeds of 30mph.
  • Tsunamis occur when waves follow one another with a lag period of between a few minutes to several hours.
  • Tsunami waves can reach heights upwards of sixty meters; this is the equivalent of a ten-story building.
How To Prepare For A Tsunami
  • Examine your home and surrounding land to determine whether flooding is likely.  Identify any vulnerable points and take corrective actions.
  • Know how to turn off the gas and electricity sources in your home.  It may be the case that authorities will ask you to do so.
  • Don’t leave your important documents (or other valuable) in the basement.  Keep them in upper floors, which will protect them from flooding. 
  • Ensure that your family has both an emergency kit and emergency plan.
  • Ensure that your emergency kit is easily transported in a duffel bag or small rolling suitcase.
  • Your local Red Cross chapter can teach you basic first aid skills and CPR.  There, you can also learn water survival skills by taking swimming and boating navigation lessons.
If you have question or wish to learn more about evacuation procedures in your area, contact the emergency services, police or fire department local to your region.