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It is important to understand the three different warning levels used for a tsunami threat or event:

  • Warning (most urgent): Issued when a tsunami with the potential to generate widespread inundation is imminent, expected or occurring.
  • Advisory: Issued when a tsunami with the potential to generate strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or very near the water is imminent, expected or occurring.
  • Watch: Issued when a tsunami may later impact the watch area.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is continually monitoring wave data and will quickly update warning information to local officials. Sign up for phone call, text and email notifications  for up to date information or evacuation information.

If you live in a low-lying area and you have not received an evacuation order, make sure to have a plan on how and where to evacuate quickly. Fill your gas tank and be prepared to evacuate to higher ground on foot.

During a tsunami

  • First, protect yourself from the earthquake and be prepared for aftershocks.
  • If you are unable to follow recommended evacuation routes, get to high ground as far inland as possible.
  • Do not go near the shore to watch a tsunami hit. If you can see it, you are too close to escape.
  • If you have been issued evacuation orders and are unable to evacuate, stay inside. It is best to be on the landward side of the house, away from windows.
  • Stay tuned to warnings and instructions from local officials. The first tsunami wave may not be the last, or even the most powerful. Stay put until authorities declare it is safe.

After a tsunami

At your home

  • If you have not been evacuated, or were unable to evacuate, your primary shelter will be your own home.
  • Tsunami waves can destroy buildings and infrastructure. If you are sheltering at home, do not flush toilets or dump water into sinks or bathroom drains until informed that sewer lines are intact.
  • Any food that has come in contact with floodwater may be contaminated and should be thrown out.
  • Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family or friends.
  • Document property damage with photographs.
  • If your home has been flooded, shovel out any mud before it solidifies. Open the windows and doors to help dry the building when instructed it is safe to do so.

Outside your shelter

  • You may encounter flood waters. Flood waters can be dangerous to walk or drive through. Avoid wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris. Water may be deeper than it appears.
  • Avoid disaster areas: your presence might hamper rescue and other emergency operations and put you at further risk from the residual effects of the tsunami, such as contaminated water, crumbled roads, landslides, mudflows and other hazards.
  • Stay away from damaged buildings, roads and bridges. Tsunami water can undermine foundations, causing buildings to sink, floors to crack or walls to collapse. Earthquake aftershocks may create additional hazards.

Health and safety risks

  • Be aware of the risk of electrocution: underground or downed power lines can electrically charge water. Do not touch any electrical equipment if it is wet or you are standing in water.
  • Be aware of risks such as hypothermia from cold water or drowning in running water.
  • Watch for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone outside quickly.
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