In the recent past the use of the word ‘tsunami’ has become common practice. In 2004 there was a tsunami in the Indian Ocean which was caused by an earthquake measuring 9.2 – making it the third largest earthquake ever recorded. What followed was complete pandemonium and chaos. People were not familiar with the concept of a Tsunami and despite the lag of several hours between the earthquake and the tsunami, they were caught unaware. There were no Tsunami warning systems in the Indian Ocean and thus several lives were lost in the Tsunami of 2004.
More recently in 2011, Japan saw a similar situation. Although Japan was relatively well prepared for a tsunami, with tsunami walls in place, they had not anticipated the size of the waves. Entire towns were destroyed and lives were lost as the world realized the minimal (if any) control that they have over mother nature.
With the increased awareness of Tsunamis and the threat we face from them, it is important for us to educate ourselves and our children on this phenomenon. Of late, Tsunamis have received special attention in Geography classes around the world so as to increase the awareness of children. As adults, we need to know the signs of a Tsunami and ways in which we can protect ourselves and our loved ones.
The first thing we need to do is to dispel all misconceptions. Although earthquakes have been the causes for Tsunamis recently, not every earthquake causes a Tsunami. A tsunami can also be caused by landslides, glacier calving volcanic eruptions etc.
Recognize the warning signs. Tsunami prone areas are knows. Look them up and find out if your home is within these bounds. It is common for the sea to recede before a Tsunami. This is called a drawback. Sometime people see the recede so far back and are intrigued. They go closer to inspect parts of the seabed they may not have seen before, thus increasing the danger in which they put themselves. The force of the Tsunami is not only felt with the oncoming of a large wave, but also as it sucks back everything in its path as it recedes.
Attempts should be made to move away from coastlines. Moving inland can take time, and if you don’t have much time, try moving towards higher ground. This may not be ideal, but it is a better option than being stranded at ground level during a tsunami. If you live in a tsunami prone area, assemble a pack of food, first aid and basic necessities and keep it in an area where it can be accessed with ease. Just like in case of all emergencies – save lives, not possessions. Do what you can to save yourself and other people, abandon all belongings. If you’re trapped in the water, try and get hold of something that floats.
Remember, the damage caused by tsunam is last much longer than the actual waves. The reconstruction of cities and lives take time. Tsunamis are scary and uncontrollable in nature. All you can do it be aware, and be prepared.