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Spreading awareness with Tsunami Preparedness Week

Do you know the warning signs of a tsunami?
Do you know the warning signs of a tsunami?

Staff writers

March 25, 2013 — NOAA is urging people to know the signs of a tsunami with Tsunami Preparedness Week, which runs until March 30.

A strong earthquake can trigger a tsunami
A strong earthquake can trigger a tsunami

With speeds that can top 800 km/h and the potential to cause millions, if not billions, of dollars in damages, a tsunami is a powerful force of nature.

NOAA is urging coastal residents and people living within the Pacific Ocean's "ring of fire" -- a region where approximately 80% of tsunamis occur -- to develop a plan of action.

"Improvements in the accuracy and timeliness of tsunami warnings and the way we communicate the threat will help the public stay safe," said Dr. Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, in a statement.

"But this information can save lives and property only if individuals and communities know when and how to take proper action. Collective and individual preparedness is key to building a Weather-Ready Nation.”

NOAA's TsunamiReady program aims to educate the public, in an effort to minimize loss and damages, should a tsunami occur. 

While tsunamis are more likely to effect parts of Asia and the U.S. (particularly Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California), British Columbia and Newfoundland have been hit by tsunamis in the past.

While Halifax also experienced a tsunami in 1917, it was caused by the explosion of the French ship Mont Blanc.

Here are a few tips, courtesy of NOAA:

Know the warning signs of a tsunami. These include:
  • a strong earthquake, which can trigger large waves and tsunamis;
  • a sudden rise or fall of the ocean tide; and/or
  • a loud, roaring sound coming from the ocean

Respond to warning signs.
  • move inland to higher ground, or into a tall building and stay there until the threat subsides;
  • stay away from the beach until warnings are dropped and officials say it is safe to return

Warn others.

Once you have been removed from danger's way, NOAA recommends using social media, email and other forms of communication to get warnings out there.

"We don’t know when the next tsunami will occur, but when it does, our resiliency and ability to respond depends on being prepared before it happens,” Uccellini adds.  

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