Killer Waves – Tsunamis – What are they and can you survive one?

A tsunami is a wave that is huge and destructive – not the sort of wave that any sane surfer would go looking for! They are caused by an earthquake deep underneath the sea, usually at the edges of the earths tectonic places. They can also be caused by underwater volcanic eruptions, which explains why most of them happen near the Pacific oceans ‘ring of fire’ – a region where the plates are very geologically active, and shift around more than most. The waves created by this violent underwater movement, can reach heights of 100 feet tall, and travel across the ocean at the speed of a typical jet aeroplane, and due to their long wavelengths, they lose very little speed as they travel. All of this makes for a very destructive scenario when they inevitably hit land.

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Defending against a tsunami is difficult due to their unpredictable nature, but the Pacific early warning system has created a coalition of 26 nations that endeavour to warn people of an approaching wave – the warning is designed to allow people time to evacuate coastal areas and head to higher regions where the wave will not reach.

One of the signs of an impending tsunami, is an earthquake. As previously mentioned, earthquakes often trigger tsunamis, and an earthquake is not usually a one off. It shows that the plates are active, and that may have triggered another movement elsewhere. After an earthquake, there may well be official tsunami warning – take their advice and head to higher ground. Even if you think that there is no danger, or that too much time has passed, evacuate the area as quickly as possible. If you are evacuating to higher ground, there is a good chance that you may be there for some time. It is sensible to make sure that you have the skills to survive out of doors, and to take with you outdoor survival equipment from – you may be there for some time, and if the warning does herald a tsunami, you may lose your home, so having a good supply of food and an ability to survive out of doors is crucial.

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If there has been a tsunami happen, do not head back to the coast straight away. There may well be another wave and it is possible that the second one will be even larger than the first. This is not a time to worry about your possessions, your life may well be at stake if you head back to lower ground. Many people have lost their lives trying to save their possessions during a disaster. It is wise to stay as high up as you can for several days to ensure that the threat has passed. Seismic activity that leads to tsunamis is very unpredictable, and you cannot be sure of how many waves there will be. Try to keep up to date with any information from the government and local news stations. A battery powered radio is a great thing to have in a crisis like this, as you will not need to rely on electricity to power it.

If you are visiting a country where tsunamis are more likely, it is worth reading up on them, and becoming familiar with local warning systems and evacuation procedures in the event of one occurring whilst you are there – this could well save your life!