Tsunami Preparedness: Applying Lessons from the Past

In 2004, a powerful earthquake struck coastal
Indonesia and generated a tsunami that killed approximately 230,000 people. The tsunami
radiated outward, and within 2 hours, had claimed tens of thousands of lives in Indonesia,
Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India. Since 2004, tremendous strides have been made
in tsunami warning capabilities. Today, we are much better prepared to detect and respond
to tsunamis before they strike. In the United States, NOAA’s National Weather
Service is dedicated to providing public safety through tsunami information and awareness.
Any large and sudden disturbance of the sea: earthquakes, landslides, volcanic activity,
can generate a tsunami. Tsunamis don’t have a season and can occur
any time, day or night. They can travel up rivers and streams from the ocean and wrap
around islands, making them just as dangerous on coasts not facing the tsunami source.
Beaches and low-lying coastal areas are most susceptible to tsunamis. A large tsunami can
flood low-lying coastal areas more than a mile inland.
As a tsunami approaches land, water may recede from the coast, exposing the ocean floor,
reefs, and fish. There may not be time for an official warning.
If you are near the coast and you feel a long earthquake, see a sudden rise or fall of the
ocean, or hear a loud roar from the ocean, a tsunami may be coming.
Don’t wait for official evacuation instructions. Immediately leave low-lying coastal areas.
Move quickly to high ground or inland. The time you take to understand tsunamis can
help you protect yourself and your loved ones. For more information go to: www.tsunami.gov

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