Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunamis a risk along coasts, beaches worldwide

APHA and the Get Ready campaign extend their sympathies to people affected by today’s earthquake and tsunami. To help, see the bottom of this blog.

This morning’s earthquake in Japan and the ensuing tsunami are a tragic reminder of the consequences of such disasters. The tsunami, which has had devastating effects in Japan, has impacted countries thousands of miles away, from the United States to Costa Rica to New Zealand.

Tsunamis are rare, especially here in the United States, but are not unheard of. In 1964, a tsunami that started after an earthquake in Alaska caused 10- to 20-foot waves along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts, killing 15 people.

That’s why its always best to be prepared. If you live on or are visiting a coastal area, be aware that you could be at risk.

Familiarize yourself with the signs of a tsunami, which commonly occur following an earthquake. If an earthquake occurs far away, coastal residents can have hours to evacuate. But if an earthquake occurs near the coast, there may not be much time for official warnings. That’s what happened in 2004, when a quake off the coast of Indonesia triggered a massive tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people.

So if you are at the beach or coast and feel the earth shake, move immediately to higher ground — do not wait for a tsunami warning. Listen to the radio, tune into the news and follow instructions given by emergency personnel. Always, always heed warnings to evacuate. In fact, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with evacuation routes long before a tsunami occurs, even if you are just visiting an area. If you live in a coastal area, check to see if your community has a tsunami plan, or is part of the federal Tsunami Ready preparedness program.

The U.S. Geological Survey is a good resource to check to see if a tsunami has been recorded or is on the way. For forecasting, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has up-to-date warnings.

Your best bet? Realize that the risk of a tsunami is real, and remember to think ahead when heading to the coast, wherever you may be.

International relief and charitable organizations are accepting donations to help people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, including Global Giving. To donate to Red Cross quake relief, text redcross to 90999 to make a $10 donation. For information about people missing in the earthquake or tsunami, see the American Red Cross website.

1 comment:

hotpotato said...

My heart goes out to the people in Japan. I forget that people on U.S. coasts are at risk too.