As you may recall, on January 15, 2022, a tsunami warning was placed for parts of the U.S. West Coast and Alaska after a volcano eruption occurred near the Tonga Islands. Waves were projected to be 1-to-3 feet along the western coastline extending from California to Alaska.
Thankfully, this event did not result in any major damage along the Washington coastline. It was a good reminder, however, that we should always be prepared for future tsunami events considering our location here in Skagit County.
Are you and your family prepared for a tsunami? Join us in recognizing Tsunami Preparedness Week this week! Register at Tsunamizone.org for resources and get some tips on how to be safe in the event of a tsunami.
What is the Cascadia subduction zone? Why should you care?
The Cascadia Subduction Zone runs for 7 hundred miles off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Beginning near Cape Mendocino, California, this zone expands along Oregon and Washington, wrapping around Vancouver, Canada.
An article (“New tsunami modeling shows more flooding likely for Skagit County”) from the Skagit Valley Herald in 2021 did a great job at summarizing the risks posed by our location. The article informs us that the most recent modeling of a potential Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake alongside the West Coast would result in greater flooding, and a greater risk for a local tsunami event than formerly predicted.
What you should do to prepare before, during, and after a tsunami?
The above goes to show the importance of tsunami preparedness. There is so much that individuals and families can do to prepare for, and anticipate, these types of events. Here are a few simple steps that you can take to ensure that you’re ready if—or when—a tsunami occurs.
Step 1: Get a Kit
Remember, this will be your emergency bag and will be the only thing you’ll have, so make sure to prepare to meet the needs of yourself and/or your household. To find a guide for kit building, visit Ready.gov.
Step 2: Make a Plan
Make a communication and evacuation plan with your friends and family. Remember to have a plan for your pets as well! Have a couple of designated meeting areas for you and your family in case you become separated. Make your plan by visiting Ready.gov!
Step 3: Be informed
Learn what you need to know to keep you and your family safe. Also, monitor the news and share your newly acquired knowledge with family and friends. Basic knowledge of first aid and CPR can also go a very long way!
In Skagit County, a great way to stay informed is by signing up for CodeRed alerts. Register here to receive emergency alerts and notifications in your area through the CodeRed Emergency Notification System.
- If you feel an earthquake: DROP, COVER, and HOLD on to anything you can that is sturdy to protect yourself.
- When you have noticed that the earthquake has stopped, get together with your household members, and go over your emergency evacuation plan to safely get out.
- Contact a Coast Guard emergency frequency station or any local radio station for any emergency information and listen for an official tsunami warning. If directed to do so, evacuate at once.
- Make sure to take your emergency go-bag and your pets with you! If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for them to stay either.
- Get to higher ground as far inland as possible. The further up and farthest away from the water the safer you and your loved ones will be during the disaster.
- Avoid any downed power lines, buildings, bridges, or heavy objects during your evacuation.
- Finally, wait until officials say it is safe before attempting to go home. There can be a series of waves within hours.
- Reach out to family and friends to let them know you are safe and to check in.
- If you become injured or sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, do not hesitate and call 9-1-1.
- If evacuated, only return if authorities have said it is safe to do so.
- Document any property damage. Take picture and keep an inventory for your insurance company. You can also contact Skagit County’s Department of Emergency Management at (360) 416-1850 for assistance.