A tsunami advisory was lifted this past Sunday for parts of the U.S. West Coast and Alaska after a volcano erupted in the Pacific on Saturday. The initial advisory went into effect on Saturday morning, with waves projected to be 1-to-3 feet along the coastline spanning from California to Alaska. Emergency alerts went to residents in King and Snohomish counties, as well as many other locations across Puget Sound.
While the Washington coastline thankfully saw minimal impacts from the tremors, we should use this experience as a reminder to be ready for future tsunami events. After all, being prepared is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your loved ones. You can take steps today to lessen the potential impacts of a tsunami event in the future.
Here are some things to consider before, during, and after a tsunami. For the full list, go to Ready.gov.
- If you live near, or regularly visit a coastal area, learn about the risk of tsunami in the area. Some at-risk communities have maps with evacuation zones and routes. If you are a visitor, ask about community plans.
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. For more information, contact Skagit County’s Department of Emergency Management at (360) 416-1850.
- Learn the signs of a potential tsunami, such as an earthquake, a loud roar from the ocean, or unusual ocean behavior, such as a sudden rise or wall of water or sudden draining of water showing the ocean floor.
- Know and practice community evacuation plans and map out your routes from home, work, and play. Pick shelters 100 feet or more above sea level, or at least one mile inland. Check with Skagit County’s Department of Emergency Management for public shelter information or download the free Red Cross Emergency app for a list of open Red Cross shelters in your area.
- Create a family emergency communication plan that has an out-of-state contact. Plan where to meet if you get separated. Consider putting together a basic Disaster Supply kit for your family. A checklist can be found here.
- Help educate your family about the importance of being prepared for natural disasters. Visit Ready.gov/kids for helpful tips.
- Consider earthquake insurance and a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood or earthquake damage.
- If you are in a tsunami area and there is an earthquake, then first protect yourself from the earthquake. Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Drop to your hands and knees. Cover your head and neck with your arms. Hold on to any sturdy furniture until the shaking stops. Crawl only if you can reach better cover, but do not go through an area with more debris. If possible, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
- When the shaking stops, if there are natural signs or official warnings of a tsunami, then move immediately to a safe place as high and as far inland as possible. Listen to the authorities, but do not wait for tsunami warnings and evacuation orders.
- If you are outside of the tsunami hazard zone and receive a warning, then stay where you are unless officials tell you otherwise.
- Leave immediately if you are told to do so. Evacuation routes are often marked by a wave with an arrow in the direction of higher ground.
- If you are in the water, then grab onto something that floats, such as a raft, tree trunk, or door. Keep in mind that floodwaters may contain debris, chemicals, or waste that are harmful to your health.
- If you are in a boat, then face the direction of the waves and head out to sea. If you are in a harbor, then go inland.
Be Safe AFTER
- Listen to local alerts and authorities for information on areas to avoid and shelter locations.
- Avoid wading in floodwater, which can contain dangerous debris. Water may be deeper than it appears. Never drive through standing water.
- Be aware of the risk of electrocution. Underground or downed power lines can electrically charge water. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water.
- If you become injured or sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
- Stay away from damaged buildings, roads, and bridges.
- Document property damage with photographs. Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance company for assistance. You may also reach out to Skagit County’s Department of Emergency Management at (360) 416-1850.
- Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.
- Take care of yourself physically and emotionally in the aftermath of a disaster. Follow CDC guidance for managing stress during a traumatic event. The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.