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How to Survive a Tsunami

A large wave of water

A tsunami can be deadly in some instances, and the best way to survive a tsunami is to be prepared for when one might occur. This is especially important if you live in or are travelling to a location where they are more likely to occur. We are going to tell you everything that you need to know about tsunamis and how you can make it through one alive in this article. 

What is a Tsunami?

For those who don’t already know, a tsunami is a huge wave that is caused typically by an earthquake or a volcanic eruption under the sea. Once a tsunami has been caused, it will continue to grow higher and higher the closer that it gets inland. The speed at which a tsunami travels will depend on the source of it, and they can travel as fast as a jet plane, all while building in ferocity,  which is a scary thought. 

Tsunamis are very dangerous, and they can kill and injure people, and destroy buildings and infrastructures as they come in and go out. Such occurrences should be taken very seriously. A tsunami is essentially a series of waves, and they can travel at 20 to 30 miles per hour, and even produce waves between 10 and 100 feet high. They can cause devastation in their paths, and you don’t ever want to be caught up in one. There are places that are at a higher risk of a tsunami too, which is something to be mindful of. 

How to To Know if a Tsunami is Coming

If you feel strong ground shaking, then you are likely experiencing an earthquake, and these can result in tsunamis after them. Another warning sign of a tsunami is if you hear a loud ocean roar sound, and this could be nature’s warning that you are in trouble. One of the most commonly noted signs of a tsunami is when the water starts to recede unusually far out and exposes the seafloor. This water that is rushing out will likely come back in with a vengeance. 

If you notice any of these things, then you should immediately go to higher ground, or further inland if you can. A tsunami will not wait, and it could be upon you within minutes of any of these signs showing. It is especially important to move if you are near a coastal area, as you will be at the front of it all, so try to get as high up to safety as you can. Do not move from your safe place until you are told that it is safe.

Another clear sign that there is a tsunami coming is if there has been an official warning that has been issued over the radio, television, telephone, a text message, or through door-to-door contract by emergency responders. If you have been warned by officials that a tsunami is coming, then you need to keep on top of any updates that are being sent out. What might be a warning could quickly lead to danger, so you will need to be prepared for the worst.

How to Prepare for a Tsunami

One of the best ways to survive a tsunami is to prepare for the worst. Knowing what to do in such a situation can save your life and the lives of those around you. We will tell you exactly how you can prepare for a tsunami below. 

Knowledge is Key

If you are someone that likes to regularly visit coastal areas, then you should make it a priority to learn all about the risks that a tsunami can pose. Those places that are at a higher risk for these disasters will usually have maps with all of the different evacuation zones to go to, and how to get there. There may also be signs that dictate which way you should go in case of an emergency. Make sure that you are aware of these routes so that you don’t have to waste any time if the worst does happen. 

Plan of Action

Learn how to tell that there is a tsunami coming by paying close attention to the warning signs that we have listed above. Practice emergency evacuation drills if you live anywhere where a tsunami is more likely to happen. Get your family involved and create an action plan so you are all prepared. Always have a family action plan in place, and make sure that everyone is aware of what they should do, including where to meet if you get separated.

Follow Warning Systems and Advice

If there is a warning system in place, make sure that you sign up to receive alerts, as this way you will always be up to date with the latest information. You should also make sure that your insurance covers natural disasters like this one.

Emergency Evacuation Kit

Last, but definitely not least, you should make sure to have an emergency evacuation kit together that you can quickly grab on your way out if you need to. Things to pack for a tsunami can include:

  • Any essential medication
  • At least one flashlight
  • Food and water
  • A radio
  • Warm clothes

The best place to keep your evacuation kit is by the front door, so you can quickly grab it on your way out. 

What to Do During a Tsunami

Now that you know exactly how you can be prepared for a tsunami, you need to know how to survive the real thing. We will talk you through everything that you need to know in this next section.

Earthquake Before a Tsunami

If you are in a tsunami-prone area and an earthquake occurs, the first thing that you will need to do is protect yourself from the earthquake. Take the approach of drop, cover, and hold on. You should drop to your hands and knees, try to cover your neck and head with your arms and hold on to something sturdy until the shaking is over. If you are indoors, try to get under something sturdy like a desk or a table. If you are outdoors try to move towards a clearer area if it is safe to do so. Avoid things like trees and cliffs, as these are unstable areas to be in during an earthquake.

Get to Higher Ground

Once the shaking has stopped, you will need to start thinking about the threat of a tsunami. If you see any signs of a tsunami, or there are any official warnings, then you should immediately evacuate and try to get to higher ground. Make sure that you are heading somewhere safe, and that it is as far inland as possible. In this instance, do not wait for a tsunami warning, as there might not be time, and make your way to safety. 

Advice and Evacuation

If you are not in a tsunami hazard zone, then the advice is to remain where you are unless you are told otherwise by officials. If you are told to evacuate, do not waste any time, and do so immediately. Always aim for higher ground.

What to Do if You Are in the Water During a Tsunami

If you are already in the water, then try to grab onto something that is able to float. If you are in a boat, then you should face the direction of the waves and head out to sea as quickly as possible. Anyone near the sea should head inland and to get to higher ground straight away. 

What to Do After a Tsunami

You are not safe after the tsunami appears to be over, as this is not always the case. Even if everything seems alright, it might not be, so you shouldn’t let your guard down unless you are told it is over by officials. Don’t forget that the first surge in a tsunami is not the highest, and the largest surge could even occur hours after the first wave hits. There is no way to tell how many surges that there will be, or how far apart they will be, so you will just need to wait it out.

Remain in Your Safe Place

Do not move from your safe location until you know that it is completely safe to do so. Tsunamis can occur for up to 8 hours, and it might not be safe to head to lower ground. You should always listen to local alerts and authorities, as they will be able to give you key information about what is going to happen next, and where you can go to seek shelter in a safe manner. Try to avoid floodwater, as it can have dangerous debris in it, and it might also be deeper than it looks to be.

Be Aware of Hazards

Always be aware of the risk of electrocution, as downed power lines can cause the water to become electrically charged. Additionally, do not touch any electrical equipment if it is wet, or if you are standing in the water. Stay away from any damaged buildings, roads, and bridges, as these areas are unstable and not safe to be on.

Seeking Medical Attention

If you are in need of medical attention due to being injured or sick, you should contact your healthcare provider for further instructions on what to do. If you are able to make it to a nearby shelter, then you should do so as soon as you can. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, then contact your local emergency number.

Using Your Phone

You should only use phone calls if it is an emergency, as phone systems will typically go down after a big disaster. If they are still working, you should try to keep the phone networks free for people who really need them. If you need to communicate with family and friends, try to do so by sending text messages or by using social media.