The states in the U.S. at greatest risk of tsunamis are Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.
Tsunamis are series of large ocean waves caused by major earthquakes or landslides beneath the ocean. When the waves enter shallow water, they may rise several feet or, in rare cases, near 100 feet, striking the coast with devastating force. Tsunamis can be local or distant. A local tsunami can arrive within minutes of an earthquake. A distant tsunami can take four to 12 hours to arrive on shore. If you feel the ground shake while at the beach or a low coastal area, move on foot inland and to higher ground as quickly as possible.
• Find out if your home, school, workplace or other frequently visited locations are in tsunami hazard areas.
• Make an escape plan and build a kit.
• Plan evacuation routes from your home, school, workplace and other places you could be where tsunamis present a risk. If possible, choose evacuation locations 100 feet above sea level. If you cannot get this high, go as high as you can. You should be able to reach your safe location on foot within 15 minutes.
• Learn the evacuation plan where your child attends school. Find out if the plan requires you to pick your children up from school or from another location. During a tsunami watch or warning, telephone lines may be overloaded and routes to and from schools may be jammed.
• Practice your evacuation routes. Familiarity may save your life. Be able to follow your escape route at night and during inclement weather. Practicing your plan will allow you to jump into action during an actual emergency.
• When visiting the coast, familiarize yourself with the nearest tsunami evacuation routes.
• If an earthquake occurs while you are on the coast and indoors, drop, cover and hold on. If you are outdoors, avoid falling objects.
• When the shaking has stopped, move quickly inland and to higher ground. Go on foot if possible.
• Take a pre-prepared go-bag filled with emergency supplies, but don’t delay leaving.
• If a tsunami watch is issued, listen to a NOAA weather radio, a Coast Guard emergency frequency station or other reliable sources for updated emergency information. Be ready to evacuate.
• Remain inland and on higher ground until an “all clear” announcement is made by local officials.
• Continue listening to a NOAA weather radio, a Coast Guard station or a local radio or television station for the latest updates.
• Return to lower ground only after local officials tell you it is safe to do so. A tsunami may consist of a series of waves and could continue for hours. Do not assume that after one wave the danger is over. The next wave may be larger than the first one.
• Check yourself for injuries and get first aid as needed before helping injured or trapped persons.
• If someone needs to be rescued, call professionals who have the right equipment to help. Many people have been killed or injured trying to rescue others.
• Assist people with access and functional needs who require assistance, such as infants and children, as well as the elderly, the disabled and those without transportation.
• Avoid disaster areas. Your presence might interfere with emergency response operations and put you at further risk from the residual effects of the tsunami.
• Use texts to communicate with friends or family. Phone calls should only be made if absolutely necessary.
• Stay out of buildings surrounded by water. Tsunami water can cause floors to crack or walls to collapse.
• Use caution when re-entering buildings or homes.
Tsnunami evacuation maps and other resources are available at nvs.nanoos.org/TsunamiEvac.