National Tsunami Awareness Week is annually observed across America from March 24 to 30. As the name suggests, the purpose of this week-long event is to make people aware of the impact of tsunamis, why they take place, and how to prepare for this natural hazard. While many people might be familiar with the scientific explanations behind its cause, many aren’t. Take this week to enlighten yourself, and in extension, your loved ones, and the people in your community, so we can all stay safe when the need arises.
History of National Tsunami Awareness Week
The origin of this week-long observation is not quite known. It follows the same intent as the United Nations’ World Tsunami Awareness Day in raising awareness among the common public about tsunamis.
The states in the U.S. that are at high risk of experiencing tsunamis include Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, California, and Washington, as they are all spread along the Pacific Coast. The U.S. Caribbean Islands are vulnerable to tsunamis too. To safeguard the residents of these states by preparing them for the disaster, we have the National Tsunami Awareness Week. However, awareness shouldn’t be limited to these states alone. People all over the country need to know as much as possible about a disaster of such magnitude.
When it comes to recuperative operations, we have a lot to learn from Japan. The word ‘tsunami’ has its roots in Japan. It’s a combination of two words, ‘tsu’ meaning ‘harbor,’ and ‘nami’ meaning ‘wave.’ Another term for ‘tsunami’ is ‘killer waves.’ The city of Sendai in Japan is upheld as a model for urban resilience based on its speedy recovery from the massive tsunami attack of 2011. The government invested close to 32 trillion yen ($295 billion) to cope with the aftermath of the disaster. From clearing the roads to reinstating the food supply, it took nearly one and a half months for the city to return to its feet, this time, stronger. Seawalls, as high as 50 feet, were erected along the northeastern coastline, which was hit by the tsunami. This feat was exemplary and nations around the globe aim to put up a similar force in the face of adversity.
National Tsunami Awareness Week timeline
A colossal earthquake-turned-tsunami hits Lisbon, causing great fires and killing over 90,000 people.
The largest recorded tsunami, with waves rising up to 1,720 feet, shakes Lituya Bay, an isolated setting in Alaska.
The U.S. and Canada experience the costliest tsunami in the world, which causes a loss of $106 million.
The Indian Ocean tsunami, with a 9.3 magnitude, surpasses all other natural disasters in the past century.
National Tsunami Awareness Week FAQs
Can we escape a tsunami by swimming?
That’s not possible as a tsunami is characterized by massive waves. Besides the sheer fatal force of a tsunami, the water current pulls a person in the opposite direction which makes swimming impossible.
What precautions can people living by the beach take to survive during a tsunami?
Palm trees with strong trunks have been found to survive tsunamis. If you’re someone who stays close to the beach, you may plant palms along the shore as a precaution. However, it is still advised that you move to a safer place once the warnings are given.
What are telltale signs of an imminent tsunami?
Coastal areas may experience extremely strong swarms (a sequence of small earthquakes). That’s a sure-fire sign that a tsunami is on its way.
How to Observe National Tsunami Awareness Week
Join a preparedness campaign
Even if you don’t live in a tsunami-prone area, join a campaign to prepare yourself. Learn survival skills that could help your or other communities in case of a tsunami.
Research, read, be aware
Although we all know what a tsunami is, we might not be aware of its causes and the precautionary actions that follow. It’s always a good idea to have in-depth knowledge of a disaster to protect yourself.
Teach other people
While you learn about tactics to survive a tsunami, pass on the information to your neighbors and the community. Information is most powerful when it’s shared, especially in the face of a disaster.
5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Tsunamis
It is humongous
A tsunami can be as long as 62 miles and can rise up to 100 feet.
Several scientists speculate that some 3.5 billion years ago, the earth witnessed a massive tsunami caused by a meteorite.
Like a flash
Tsunamis can travel at up to 500 miles per hour, the speed of a jet plane.
The most at risk
Hawaii is at the greatest risk of tsunamis in the U.S.
Why National Tsunami Awareness Week is Important
To be tsunami ready
Disasters do not come with a warning. It’s best to be aware of all the possible hazards and be prepared to save your life and those of others if the need arises.
Learning precautionary measures
The purpose of this awareness week is to equip yourself with the skills to cope during a tsunami. Such skills may come in handy during other natural disasters.
Spread the word
Self-awareness isn’t enough when it comes to facing a natural calamity as grand as a tsunami. Be a good Samaritan and educate others on the matter too.
National Tsunami Awareness Week dates