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A tsunami is the formation of a large wave that is generated after a disturbance like an earthquake. Often, the tsunami is not just one large wave, but several waves. When a tsunami occurs, water is pulled from the shoreline, exposing the bottom of the sea. The water is gathered into the tsunami and contacts land violently leading to flooding. As this occurs, significant damage to infrastructure can occur, and loss of life.
Although Tsunamis can potentially occur along any coast depending on several factors, there are locations that are more prone to tsunami activity. In the United States, tsunamis generally occur along the pacific coast, impacting California and Alaska, although there is potential for them to occur elsewhere. US territories like Samoa, Guam and Puerto Rico are also at higher risk for a tsunami. Outside of the United States, the large majority of documented tsunamis since 1900 have occurred around the “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific Ocean.
How Do I Prepare for a Tsunami?
If you live near a coast, it is essential to know if you live in a tsunami hazard zone. If you do, reach out to the local government to understand their tsunami evacuation plans. Be aware of warning signs of tsunami development such as recent earthquake activity, or abnormal ocean activity. A loud roar of the ocean or sudden visualization of the ocean floor is a reported sign of tsunami activity. As stated by the Red Cross, seek higher ground or head inland at the first inkling of possible tsunami activity. The Red Cross has prepared a helpful Tsunami Preparedness Checklist which can be found here.
If you live in a portion of the world that is more likely to experience tsunamis, it is imperative to stay aware of possible threats. Frequently check the NOAA Tsunami Warning System, which can be found here. This site will help alert of activity that may result in a tsunami. Following an event that could trigger a tsunami, like an earthquake, it is critical to follow local news for up-to-date information.
Have Important Documents Ready
It is beneficial to have important documents pertaining to you and your pet easily accessible. Have recent pictures of your pet available and stored with important documents. When gathering documents related to your pet, consider including rabies certificates, vaccination history, recent bloodwork, and microchip information. It is best to place important documents in a waterproof container or bag to ensure they do not become damaged if faced with water.
Know Where to Go
If you can physically leave the area with the threat of high waters and tsunami, you should do so as soon as possible. Traveling after a tsunami may be incredibly dangerous and impossible. If you are unable to physically leave the area at risk, try to move inland and to high ground. In some cases, high ground may be the top level of a building. Having an evacuation plan in place for you and your pet is essential. Try to follow evacuation protocols outlined for your area.
Know the Secondary Risk
With the large influx of water inland, significant damage is likely to occur to buildings and other structures. This will cause objects to be submerged in floodwaters, posing a risk of injury. Along similar lines, downed power lines pose a risk as do currents caused by tsunami. Do not attempt to swim in flood waters. Stay on high ground. Additionally, your pet should not be allowed to drink from flood waters as it likely contains contaminants that are not appropriate for consumption.
First Aid Kit
Try gathering first aid supplies that may be helpful in the situation where your pet is injured and is unable to see a doctor. The ASPCA has compiled a list of items pet owners should consider having in an emergency first aid bag. A few items you may consider having on hand include, but are not limited to:
- Bandaging materials
- Cotton Balls
Gather Pet Necessities
As with any natural disaster, it is important to ensure your pet has a means of identification. Ensure your pet is wearing identification that can help reunite you if you were to be separated. Have a leash or pet carrier available to use if you and your pet need to move locations. If you have a cat, have spare litter available. In a natural disaster like a tsunami, you and your pet may not have access to help for several days. If possible, try to ensure you have several days’ worth of food, medicine, and water on hand.
Although relatively infrequent, tsunamis can cause severe damage. If you live in an area prone to tsunami activity, it is important to keep you and your pet safe by knowing the risk factors and signs of tsunamis. Care must be taken to have a pet friendly evacuation plan in place. For those in tsunami hazard areas, it is essential to utilize resources available to help prepare you and your pet for this type of natural disaster.