Tsunamis are like an event straight out of a nightmare -- the ocean disappears only to return as a humongous destructive wave, washing over cities, businesses, and neighborhoods.
Tsunamis strike after earthquakes, travel up to 30 miles an hour, and reach heights of over 100 feet. They can happen anywhere along U.S coasts -- and places that border the Caribbean or the Pacific Ocean are at the highest risk. It’s important to act now and prepare your family before the threat is imminent.
Experience: Washed Away in a Tsunami
A young man and his mother, when vacationing in Indonesia, witnessed and were caught in the middle of a tsunami as it crashed onto land, flattening buildings, and sweeping people away in the currents. But though there was death and destruction, everyone came together to check on and aid one another, and their humanity shone through in a time of desperate need.
Tsunamis are a surprising event. Often they hit after an earthquake thousands of miles away so the victims have not idea they're coming.
According to National Geographic:
"A tsunami’s trough, the low point beneath the wave’s crest, often reaches shore first. When it does, it produces a vacuum effect that sucks coastal water seaward and exposes harbor and sea floors. This retreating of sea water is an important warning sign of a tsunami, because the wave’s crest and its enormous volume of water typically hit shore five minutes or so later. Recognizing this phenomenon can save lives.
A tsunami is usually composed of a series of waves, called a wave train, so its destructive force may be compounded as successive waves reach shore. People experiencing a tsunami should remember that the danger may not have passed with the first wave and should await official word that it is safe to return to vulnerable locations.
Some tsunamis do not appear on shore as massive breaking waves but instead resemble a quickly surging tide that inundates coastal areas.
The best defense against any tsunami is early warning that allows people to seek higher ground..."
How can you prepare for something that can strike immediately after another natural disaster? If you’re already shaken from an earthquake, will you be in the right headspace to be ready for a tsunami if it hits?
Thankfully, we have the tips you may need for staying alert and being prepared. You should always be prepared before a disaster hits -- and one way to do so is to be mentally ready.
A preparedness plan isn’t difficult to formulate -- and it isn’t hard to create and follow steps to stay safe.
If you are not on land when a tsunami hits, do not panic. If you are on a boat, do not come back to land and dock -- go out to sea until the tsunami is over and it is relatively safe.
It’s also highly recommended to know how to revive those who have drowned and aid those who are injured or caught in the currents. If you’ve gotten to high ground and are able, pull as many survivors from the water as you can.
Tsunamis are highly dangerous, and the amount of victims it can leave in its wake is too high -- but not all drowning victims are completely lost. If you encounter someone who has drowned, follow these steps to attempt to save their life.
First, try to wake the victim, and check for signs of consciousness. If they are completely unresponsive, lie them down flat on their back and tilt their head and chin backwards. Doing so should clear up their airway -- place your cheek by their month to check for breath, watch their chest, and if it isn’t rising and falling, and they are not breathing, continue by giving them 5 rescue breaths.
Pinch their nose and breathe into their mouth, each breath lasting about one second. Take five deep breaths and continue as instructed. After you have completed five rescue breaths, it’s time to move on to CPR.
Take your hands and place them overtop of each other, and push down on the direct center of the victim's chest. Keep your arms straight, continuing the motion for one minute. Try to do this to the beat of “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen -- the song, ironically, has 120 beats per minute.
After one minute of CPR, you should call for help if you’re alone -- call as soon as possible if you’re not alone. Have someone else make the call while you revive the victim.
Continue to revive the victim with 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths over and over until they begin to breathe normally again, or until trained paramedics can take over. If you are with a group or someone else who knows how to perform CPR, switch off with them regularly to avoid becoming too tired to offer further aid.
If the victim wakes up, try to keep them warm and reassure them that they will be okay -- it’s best to get them to a hospital even if they feel fine, as water could be left in their lungs and cause dry drowning.
Emergency Plan (ready.gov)
Emergency Contact Info (ready.gov)
Emergency Plan for Schools (ready.gov)
Like any other emergency, you should gather emergency gear to get you through. It's best to come up with a list of everything your family might need beforehand so you have time to gather and store away your supplies.
There won’t be a lot of time to prepare for a tsunami, so it’s important to have everything you need already packed and ready to go. Try to either keep these supplies ready in a bag or in your car in the event you have to evacuate your home quickly.
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