Tsunamis: What should you do? (Video for the deaf included)
Major tsunamis are a thankfully rare occurrence but it’s good to be prepared. So here are a few things people can do to protect themselves.
1. Stay alert: If an earthquake strikes, check local media or ask around to see whether a tsunami warning has been issued. If it has, pay attention. Follow any instruction you are given to evacuate.
2. Seek high ground: If a tsunami is coming and you are on the beach or close to shore, you need to find somewhere safer. It could be a nearby hill or, if there is nowhere suitable, a tall solidly-constructed building that can withstand a powerful wave.
3. Plan ahead: If you are living in or visiting an area prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, there may be designated evacuation paths and safe areas. Make sure you know where these are. Some countries also have sirens that sound in the event of a potential disaster. If you hear one, find out what is happening and act accordingly.
4. Don’t go and look at the sea: Sometimes the first sign of an impending tsunami is the sea draining away, so it looks like a very low tide. In some cases people who rushed to gather stranded fish or stopped to look have been killed by the incoming waves. According to the Tsunami Information Centre, “tsunamis can move faster than people can run”.
5. Don’t rush home: If officials tell you to evacuate, don’t return home until the all-clear has been given. Sometimes there may be destructive waves over several minutes or hours. If your house or neighbourhood has sustained damage, make sure it is safe before entering.
6. Keep an emergency kit: This can be as elaborate as you want, but a basic kit should contain water, non-perishable food items, first aid supplies and a torch. This means that if a tsunami (or any other natural disaster) affects water supply and local infrastructure you have enough to keep you and your family going until the situation stabilises.