Are YOU Ready for a Tsunami?

Plan for a tsunami if you live or visit a coastal area


The 26 December 2004 earthquake resulted in 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) of land subsidence in the Car Nicobar, Nicobar Islands, India leaving houses that were once above sea level now permanently submerged. Photo courtesy of ICMAM, Chennai, DOD, India.
No one thinks a tsunami will happen...but they do. A wise person visiting to, or living in, a coastal area will at least learn of the tsunami risks associated with their location.

Before the threat appears...
Learn about tsunami risk in your community or the coastal area you plan to visit. Know the height of your location above sea level and the distance of your location from the coast or other high-risk waters. KNOW IF YOU ARE IN A TSUNAMI EVACUATION ZONE.

If you are visiting an area at risk from tsunamis, check with the hotel, motel, or campground operators for tsunami evacuation information and how you would be warned. It is most important to know designated escape routes before a warning is issued.
If on the beach or near the shoreline and you feel a strong earthquake...
EVACUATE TO HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY! Do not wait for a formal warning. If possible, pick an area 100 feet (30 meters) above sea level or go up to two miles (three kilometers) inland, away from the coastline. If you can't get this high or far, go as high as you can. Every foot inland or upwards may make a difference. You should be able to reach your safe location on foot within 15 minutes.

High, multi-story, reinforced concrete hotels are located in many low-lying coastal areas. The upper floors of these hotels can provide a safe place to find refuge should there be a tsunami warning and you cannot move quickly inland to higher ground.

The tsunami of 26 December 2004 destroyed the nearby city of Banda Aceh leaving only a few structures standing. Photo courtesy of Yuichi Nishimura, Hokkaido University.
If a tsunami warning is issued...
Onshore: If you are in school, follow the advice of teachers and other school personnel. If you are at home, make sure your entire family is aware of the warning.

Your family should evacuate your house if you live in a tsunami evacuation zone. Move in an orderly, calm and safe manner to the evacuation site or to any safe place outside your evacuation zone. Follow the advice of local emergency and law enforcement authorities.
In the open ocean: Remain at sea in waters more than 1,300 feet (400 meters) deep.
In a harbor: If there is time, move your boat or ship from port to a location where the water is more than 1,300 feet (400 meters) deep but also consider small boat owners may find it safest to leave the boat at the pier and physically move to higher ground, particularly in the event of a locally-generated tsunami.

Is your community TsunamiReady™?

TsunamiReady logoTsunamiReady is where the National Weather Service gives communities the skills and education needed to survive a tsunami before, during and after the event. TsunamiReady helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen their local tsunami operations.

TsunamiReady communities are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of a tsunami through better planning, education and awareness. Communities have fewer fatalities and property damage if they plan before a tsunami arrives. No community is tsunami proof, but TsunamiReady can help communities save lives.

TsunamiReady Community signEncourage your community leaders to adopt the TsunamiReady program. Business leaders, civic groups, political leaders, and local government officials can be instrumental in helping their community to become TsunamiReady.

Some of the Criteria
To be recognized as TsunamiReady, here are some of the criteria that a community must meet:
  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center.
  • Have more than one way to receive tsunami warnings and to alert the public.
  • Promote public readiness through community education and the distribution of information
  • Develop a formal tsunami plan, which includes holding emergency exercises.
  • Read the specific TsunamiReady guidelines.

Go to the TsunamiReady website.

Next: May 1960: Surviving a Tsunami