Preparing for a Tsunami
Tsunamis are a series of enormous waves created by an underwater disturbance such as an earthquake, landslide, volcanic eruption, or meteorite. A tsunami can move hundreds of miles per hour in the open ocean and smash into land with waves as high as 100 feet or more.
From the area where the tsunami originates, waves travel outward in all directions. Once the wave approaches the shore, it builds in height. There may be more than one wave and the succeeding one may be larger than the one before. That is why a small tsunami at one beach can be a giant wave a few miles away.
Earthquake-induced movement of the ocean floor most often generates tsunamis. If a major earthquake or landslide occurs close to shore, the first wave in a series could reach the beach in a few minutes, even before a warning is issued. Areas are at greater risk if they are less than 25 feet above sea level and within a mile of the shoreline.
Drowning is the most common cause of death associated with a tsunami. Tsunami waves and the receding water are very destructive to structures in the run-up zone. Other hazards include flooding, contamination of drinking water, and fires from gas lines or ruptured tanks.
Before and During a Tsunami
• Turn on your radio to learn if there is a tsunami warning
• Move inland to higher ground immediately and stay there
• Stay away from the beach. Never go down to the beach to watch a tsunami comes in
After a Tsunami
• Stay away from flooded and damaged areas until officials say it is safe to return
• Stay away from debris in the water
• Save yourself - not your possessions