Tsunami safety and recovery tips
State Farm offers tips on protecting your family, pets, and property during a tsunami
Tsunamis are large ocean waves generated by major earthquakes beneath the ocean floor. Rising to several feet or higher, they can strike the coast with devastating force. People in low coastal areas along the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf or Caribbean coasts need to be aware that a tsunami could arrive within minutes of an earthquake and should be prepared before one strikes.
Before a tsunami
Tsunamis can happen very quickly, so proper planning now can save valuable time later. Here are a few tips.
- Create a plan. Help ensure your family's safety by developing a disaster preparedness plan that includes a disaster survival kit and an emergency evacuation plan. Tsunami evacuation plans should identify shelters and/or safe areas higher than 100 feet above sea level or up to two miles inland.
- Prepare a pet emergency kit for pets/animals.
- Move to higher ground. If you are near a shoreline and feel a strong earthquake, evacuate to higher ground immediately. Other immediate warning signs include water pulling away from the shore and a loud ocean roar.
- Listen to advisories. The National Weather Service provides a Tsunami Warning System that warns of advisories and watches. A tsunami watch means that a tsunami has not yet been verified, but an earthquake or other event has made one possible. When a tsunami watch is in effect, use a battery-powered radio to keep up with the latest information.
- Evacuate when a warning is given. A tsunami warning means that a tsunami is on its way. Evacuate immediately to higher ground or inland areas. Do not go to coastal areas to watch for the tsunami, regardless of their elevation. If it is too late to evacuate, go to an upper level of a sturdy building or the highest ground you can access as soon as possible.
- Consider earthquake insurance and a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood or earthquake damage.
After a tsunami
Knowing how to deal with the aftermath of a tsunami is important. Additional severe activity may follow initial quakes and early waves, so remain at a higher elevation until the tsunami threat has completely passed. Local officials will issue an "all clear" advisory when appropriate.
A few safety tips:
- Avoid wading or driving in floodwater, which can contain dangerous debris. Water may be deeper than it appears.
- Be aware of the risk of electrocution. Underground or downed power lines can electrically charge water. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water.
Upon returning, you should:
- Inspect damage. Make note of any visible damage carefully. Be mindful and careful of all visible and potential dangers including live wires, electrical shorts and gas or sewage leaks.
- Check your water supplies. Use your emergency water or boil tap water before drinking until you are told the water supply is safe.
- Check food supplies. Food that came in contact with floodwaters may be contaminated and should be discarded.
- Document property damage with photographs. Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance company for assistance.
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