What is a tsunami?
A tsunami is a large ocean wave usually caused by an underwater earthquake or a volcanic explosion. Tsunamis are NOT tidal waves. Tidal waves are caused by the forces of the moon, sun, and planets upon the tides, as well as the wind as it moves over the water. With typical waves, water flows in circles, but with a tsunami, water flows straight. This is why tsunamis cause so much damage!
This page explains what actions to take when you receive a tsunami alert, and it also provides tips on what to do before, during, and after a tsunami.
Tips: Before the Tsunami
- The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property from the effects of a tsunami:
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- If the school evacuation plan requires you to pick your children up from school or from another location. Be aware telephone lines during a tsunami alert may be overloaded and routes to and from schools may be jammed.
- Knowing your cmunity’s warning systems and disaster plans, including evacuation routes.
- If an earthquake occurs and you are in a coastal area, turn on your radio to learn if there is a tsunami warning.
Tips: During the Tsunami
- Follow the evacuation order issued by authorities and evacuate immediately. Take your animals with you.
- CAUTION – If there is noticeable recession in water away from the shoreline this is nature’s tsunami warning and it should be heeded.
- You should move away immediately.
- Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance – infants, elderly people, and individuals with access or functional needs.
Tips: After the Tsunami
- Return home only after local officials tell you it is safe. A tsunami is a series of waves that may continue for hours. Do not assume that after one wave the danger is over. The next wave may be larger than the first one.
- Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home.
- Stay away from debris in the water; it may pose a safety hazard to people or pets.
- Check yourself for injuries and get first aid as needed before helping injured or trapped persons.
- If someone needs to be rescued, call professionals with the right equipment to help. Many people have been killed or injured trying to rescue others.
- Help people who require special assistance—infants, elderly people, those without transportation, people with access and functional needs and large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation.
- Tuning to a Coast Guard station or a local radio or television station for the latest updates.
- Stay out of any building that has water around it. Tsunami water can cause floors to crack or walls to collapse.
- To avoid injury, wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up.
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