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What to Do When a Tsunami Strikes

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How to keep yourself alive in the event of a tsunami.

Tsunamis are a mass of sea waves that are usually caused by an earthquake in the floor of the sea. Tsunamis travel rapidly in the open ocean, sometimes at speeds exceeding 600 miles per hour. When the tsunami hits shallow water, the height of the tsunami can rise rapidly. This can cause devastation to the land near the shore where the tsunami hits.

The First Isn’t the Worst The thought that the first wave of the tsunami is the strongest and hardest is a misconception. Oftentimes the successive waves are larger than the first. The can occur minutes apart and may continue for several hours after the first wave hits.

You May Have Only Minutes

If the earthquake that causes the tsunami happens far out in the ocean away from the shore, there should be ample time for the authorities to issue a tsunami warning. If, however, the earthquake happens close to shore, there may only be minutes between the earthquake and the arrival of the first wave.
If you feel the ground shake and you know an earthquake has occurred or if you notice a sudden change in the sea level, you should evacuate to high ground as soon as possible. If possible, make sure that you are at least fifty feet above sea level. At this height, you should be clear of any waves that are headed your way.

Be Prepared

Before a tsunami hits, you’ll want to have a disaster plan prepared with your family. Everyone should know what signs to look for and where to go should a tsunami be approaching. In addition to a disaster plan, you should prepare a disaster kit. Make sure each kit contains provisions for at least three days.
This kit should include food, medical supplies, a flashlight, batteries, clothing, a blanket and photos of each family member.
One kit is not enough. You need to have a separate kit for your home, your car and your workplace.

Stay Away From Shore

While it may be tempting to watch a tsunami from the coast, never, ever give into this temptation. Do not assume you can outrun the tsunami as many people cannot run faster than a tsunami can travel.
It is also important that you do not assume that it is safe to return to shore after the first wave. As explained before, tsunamis are a series of waves with subsequent waves being stronger than the first. Wait until the authorities state that it is safe to return to shore before doing so.
By taking the appropriate measures, you and your family can be prepared should a tsunami strike and your changes of surviving the tsunami will be drastically increased.