How Do You Prepare for a Tsunami?

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Before a tsunami is imminent, people living in areas where tsunamis are possible should construct tsunami emergency kits and organize a family communications plan. When a tsunami watch is issued, people should tune into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather service, ensure the emergency kit is well stocked, locate family members and prepare to evacuate. When a tsunami warning is issued, everyone should evacuate to higher ground.

When tsunamis strike, often services such as electricity, water and communications are cut off and supplies are unavailable. Tsunami emergency kits should contain enough food, water and supplies to last several days. Since local communications are knocked out during tsunamis, family members should carry contact cards with phone numbers of outside relatives they can contact to communicate that they are safe.

A tsunami watch means that a tsunami could be no more than an hour to a few hours away. If families have small children or disabled or elderly members, they should consider evacuating early. If there is time, household items can be secured against waves. Pets should be kept indoors to be ready to evacuate with people. Livestock should be moved early, before a final warning. Once a warning is issued, it is imperative that people follow any instructions given by local authorities and evacuate at once if instructed to do so. No one should return home until after an official announcement that it is safe.