How To Survive A Tsunami

Do you want to know how to survive a tsunami?

It’s important to know what to do when a tsunami hits as you will only have little time to react. But first, let’s talk about what causes a tsunami.

Causes of Tsunami

A tsunami is a huge, destructive sea wave caused by a sudden, violent change in the surface of the ocean floor. The common cause is an undersea earthquake, but landslides and volcanic eruptions can also trigger it. Even large extra-terrestrial debris such as a meteorite that would fall into the earth can trigger a tsunami.

But whatever violent change occurs, the waters above will have no choice but to move. The wave would then continue to build upon itself and outwards, away from the source of the change until it reaches the nearest island.

Do You Live In A Tsunami Hazard Zone?

A tsunami hazard zone is located within the “ring of fire,” or the area in the Pacific Ocean known for frequent geologic activities.

The coastal lines of the following countries are found in the ring of fire: Chile, Mexico, the U.S., Antarctica, Russia, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Canada, Peru, Taiwan, and Guatemala.

The most dangerous places to be in when a tsunami is about to hit are beaches, bays, tidal flats, river mouths, lagoons, and estuaries.

If you happen to live on one that is known to be a tsunami hazard zone, then I urge you to take the following steps immediately:

First, you must identify whether your coastal region is vulnerable to a tsunami hit. Check with your local weather service on the history of your area to find out. You can also contact the local authorities to determine how they issue a tsunami warning, and whether they have done so in the past.

Next, you should determine whether any of the places you and your family members frequently go to are at sea level. These include your home, workplace, school, shopping mall, and so on.

Make Necessary Preparations

Once you have verified that you live in a tsunami hazard zone, the next logical step to take is to make the necessary preparations. Doing so will significantly increase you and your family’s chances of survival.

Here are the preparatory steps you should take:

First, contact the local authorities to get the map of evacuation routes in your area. Once you have it, determine which safety zone is closest to the places you and your family members frequent.

A safety zone is an evacuation center that is on stable high grounds

Mark the best routes to take to get from these points to the safety zone.

Next, acquire a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NAOAA) radio alert feature for both your home and office. Through this, you can get an official Tsunami Warning from the local authorities.

Third is to assemble an evacuation kit. This should contain all the essentials you need not just during, but also after the tsunami. Here is my recommended list of what it should contain:

  1. Basic first aid kit
  2. Medications and medical supplies for your or your family’s specific conditions
  3. Lightweight, non-perishable food (three to seven days’ worth)
  4. Potable water (three to seven days’ worth)
  5. Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  6. Flashlight, ideally waterproof
  7. Hygiene products, including sanitary wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and rubbing alcohol)
  8. Lightweight beddings or blankets
  9. Lightweight clothing
  10. Important documents stored in a waterproof envelope (including birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, and so on)
  11. Cell phone with charger and extra batteries
  12. Extra cash

Your evacuation kit should be placed somewhere hidden but easy for you to access. Ideally, you should have one at home and another one at your office.

Have a Well-Planned Evacuation Plan

Aside from making the necessary preparations, you should also devise a solid evacuation plan. I highly recommend that you and your family members do drills so that you will only have to take immediate action as soon as you get the official warning.

Here is my recommended evacuation plan:

  1. Train your family members on how to determine tsunami warning signs.

If your local weather services have already warned you about an oncoming storm, you should already prepare for the worst. During the storm, listen closely to any reports on the television or radio. At any moment, local authorities may give official announcements to urge you to evacuate.

Aside from the official warning sign, there are also natural signs to look out for. The first natural warning sign is a strong earthquake, followed by a distant roar from the ocean. Shortly after, the seawater will recede abnormally, which means the tsunami is forming. Once you have witnessed these signs, you must rush to the closest safety zone.

  1. Choose the best safety zone where you and your family will reunite.

However, if your family members are in separate locations, each should go to the nearest safety zone from where they are. Then, you may reunite only after the danger is over.

  1. Practice drills on how to access the safety zones from different points in your location.

Identify alternative escape routes in case certain roads are destroyed by the calamity. Drills will also help you determine the functional needs of different family members. For instance, if you have babies, seniors, or members with disabilities, you may need special mobility equipment, such as a wheel chair.

All family members should learn the evacuation plan by heart, because a second of hesitation will lead to disastrous results.

Evacuate Quickly when Tsunami Hits

As soon as you hear the warnings, you should evacuate immediately. Grab your emergency kit and leave everything else behind. Then, immediately go to the safety zone, or the highest possible ground you can access. Only after you are safe should you then try to contact any family members.

In worst-case scenarios where you get caught up in the water, you must reach for the closest floating object and hold onto it. If you can find a sturdy, tall tree, climb it. Keep in mind that a tsunami cannot be surfed as it is full of debris.

After the first tsunami surge, there may be aftershocks and additional surges. These surges may be bigger than the first one, so do not leave the safety zone until after you get the official announcement that it is safe to come down.

Post Tsunami Rehabilitation Plan

After the dangers have passed, you and your family can take refuge in any undamaged structure. Secure the area to protect yourselves from theft. If possible, find a generator or other sources of energy to power your shelter.

Finally, plan on how to ration your food and water. At the same time, listen to your radio for any updates from the local authorities.

Now that you know all the necessary details on how to survive a tsunami, feel free to share this with everyone you know. That way, you can all work together to increase your community’s chances of survival.