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Skip Navigation LinksHome : Tsunamis : Safety
TSUNAMIS
Safety

Sensing a tsunami
Scientists in the region are currently in the process of developing a Caribbean tsunami early warning system. Until the system is developed, we may receive warnings from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center whose specific responsibility is for Pacific Ocean tsunami. In the mean time, tsunamis can fortunately be detected using our human senses. Everyone should be able to recognize a tsunami’s natural warning signs.

FEEL

  • Strong local earthquakes may cause tsunamis.
  • FEEL the ground shaking severely?

SEE

  • As a tsunami approaches shorelines, the ocean may pull back from the coastline significantly, exposing the ocean floor, reefs and fish.
  • SEE an unusual disappearance of water?

HEAR

  • A roar like an oncoming train or plane may be heard as a tsunami rushes toward the shore.
  • HEAR the roar?

RUN

  • Don’t wait for official evacuation orders.
  • Immediately leave low-lying coastal areas e.g. beaches.
  • Do not try to surf the tsunami.
  • Move inland to higher ground.
  • RUN if you see a tsunami coming!

What to do
The following are some guidelines for protecting yourself before, during and after a tsunami.

Before a tsunami

  • Find out if your home is in a danger area by knowing the distance it is from the coast.
  • If you live in a low-lying area – for instance near to the beach – learn the quickest way to get to high ground. A safe area would be at least 30m (~100feet) above sea level and 3km (~ 2miles) inland. Teach and practice the evacuation plan with all family members.
  • Currently, there is no Caribbean tsunami early warning system so ensure that all family members know how to recognize natural tsunami warning signs.
  • Discuss tsunamis with your family and friends. Everyone should know what to do in case all members are not together.
  • Emergency items such as canned foods, medication, flashlights, battery-operated radios, bottled water and First Aid kits should be readily available and working properly.

During a tsunami
  • If you detect signs of a tsunami evacuate and move to higher ground at once.
  • If possible, stay tuned to a radio, or television or log on to the SRC website at www.uwiseismic.com to get the latest emergency information.
  • Never go down to the beach to watch for a tsunami. If you can see the wave, you are already too close to outrun it.
  • A tsunami is not a single wave, but a series of waves that can come ashore for hours. The first wave may not be the largest. Stay out of danger areas until an “all-clear” is issued by a recognized authority e.g. your local disaster management office.

If you detect signs of  a tsunami move immediately to higher ground!

After a tsunami
  • If possible, stay tuned to a radio, or television or log on to the SRC website at www.uwiseismic.com to get the latest emergency information.
  • Help injured or trapped persons.
  • Keep out of stagnant water.
  • Open windows and doors to help dry buildings.
  • Shovel mud while it is still moist to give walls and floors an opportunity to dry.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Check food supply and test drinking water.
  • Fresh food that has come in contact with flood water may be contaminated and should be thrown out.
  • Check for damage to sewer and water lines.

Flooding at hotel in Thailand in the aftermath of the December 26, 2004 tsunami.

Contributing source:
UNESCO IOC International Tsunami Information Center