For those living in coastal areas; on the shores of an ocean or a large lake, the threat of a tsunami is all too prevalent. Tsunami is Japanese for “harbour wave” and is actually a series of waves instead of a single large wave.
What Causes a tsunami to form?
A tsunami is formed by a displacement of a large body of water, typically an ocean or a very large lake. Usually when an underwater earthquake – generally what is known as a mega-thrust earthquake or simply an upward thrusting earthquake occurs, a volcanic eruption, usually underwater or any form of underwater detonation such as a nuclear explosion, a tsunami can potentially form.
Other causes may be landslides, glacier calvings or meteorite impacts may all spawn a potential tsunami. Tsunami waves do not have the same appearance as traditional ocean or sea waves; they don’t present as breaking waves, but more like a rising tide. This is due to the fact that their wavelength is longer than average waves. This is the main reason that they have become known as tidal waves.
Tsunamis tend to come in a series of waves that can range from minutes apart to several hours. Waves can reach tens of metres in height and cause widespread destruction, even though this tends to be localised to coastal areas. These waves can affect a large portion of any given ocean; for example, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami affected 14 countries and left over 230,000 people dead.
Disaster Preparedness: Can You Prepare for a Tsunami?
The best possible way to prepare for a potential tsunami is to have your home inland from the coastline. Stronger tsunamis have been known to travel inland for several miles, especially if the land is flat, so it’s better if your home rests on a hill or at least higher ground. If your home is below sea level or at sea level, there is very little you can do to prepare your home in the event of a large tsunami wave.
Emergency planning: You should stock emergency medical supplies, food, clothing, batteries and money in a bag you can easily take with you by the front door in the event a tsunami wave strikes. There are many areas that have a tsunami warning centre and they will sound the alarm if a large enough earthquake has been detected. This does not mean a tsunami is imminent until ocean buoys detect a surge in the water itself.
These warnings should be heeded without delay and you should follow your regions tsunami evacuation route.
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