How to survive a tsunami

By Stef Zisovska
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How to survive a tsunami

Stef Zisovska
 
Taken at Ao Nang, Krabi Province, Thailand, during the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in Thailand
Taken at Ao Nang, Krabi Province, Thailand, during the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in Thailand
 
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Surviving a tsunami is not an easy thing, and for some it’s impossible. What’s important to understand from the start is that yes, you can survive the destructive force of tsunami waves if you are well prepared. It’s going to be difficult, and we don’t wish it happen to anyone, but if you ever find yourself in a tsunami prone area, you should learn some basic steps on how to stay alive and help others to do the same.

Be prepared

The energy released produces tsunami waves
The energy released produces tsunami waves

Tsunamis are common for coastal regions, especially near oceans. If your place of residence is near the ocean then you shouldn’t be surprised if a tsunami strikes one day. To be more specific, you need to have a survival kit, food, and water prepared at any time. Make a light-weight survival pack, easy to carry around when the time comes. A beach life is a beautiful thing, but also risky. You may never witness tsunami in your whole lifetime, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Go to a higher point

Leave the coast
Leave the coast

Low lying areas are the ones that suffer tsunami strikes most. So, if you detect any ground shakes and tremors or if you hear a loud roar, then try to reach a higher ground as soon as possible. Start running as fast as you can and carry a light survival pack. Two miles inland is usually the safe distance you should reach.

Stay up for few days

Stay in the hills
Stay in the hills

Tsunami is not just one wave that comes and goes. It’s a complex system of waves that can occur in the next few days. To be sure that it’s all over, stay in the mountains or any high point for few days. Don’t rush to go back to the coast because you don’t know how many more waves are going to hit. So, the best thing is to sit and wait until it’s all calm.

Moving quickly after the earthquake

Tsunami hazard sign at Bamfield, British Columbia – Author: Mimigu – CC BY 3.0
Tsunami hazard sign at Bamfield, British Columbia – Author: Mimigu – CC BY 3.0

One of the main causes of tsunamis is earthquakes. Usually when the earthquake stops you have about 10-15 minutes until the tsunami strikes. In those moments you need to try to get a grip and start quick evacuation of your family and friends. It’s not an easy thing to do, but someone needs to stay calm. When the earthquake stops, grab the survival kit, and start the evacuation. If you have a car, save as many people as possible. Avoid power lines, bridges, and buildings due to the dangers of falling debris.

Save lives not belongings

A wave rising
A wave rising

The only material thing you should carry about is the survival pack and warm clothing. What you need to do is to evacuate as many kids as possible, help people in need, never leave anyone behind, but only if your life is under your control. If possible, save some animal’s lives too. During disasters, they are always abandoned and left to die. If you are a self-controlled person, help everyone you can.

The evacuation

Evacuate kids first
Evacuate kids first

When you hear tsunami warning signs, always be ready to leave and take your family with you. Give simple instruction to everybody you’re evacuating, especially to kids. Also, select a common area for you and your family members to reunite if you get lost in the chaos. Teach children how to listen and detect tsunami warning signs. If you think that a tsunami is following the earthquake, though there are no warnings about it, evacuate. It’s better to be wrong than dead.

A tsunami strike is a dreadful thing that causes lots of trauma and fear. Dealing with it and coming out alive from the mess is a real success, and it’s absolutely possible. If you live by the ocean, always be prepared. Good luck!

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