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  • Writer's pictureKyle Sooley-Brookings

Emergency Preparedness Week: Tsunamis


Today is Day four of Emergency Preparedness Week.

Emergency Preparedness Week is an opportunity to encourage Canadians to take action to be better prepared to protect themselves and their families during emergencies.

We will highlight different possible events this week.

Tsunamis are a series of large waves caused by events such as submarine earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and less commonly, meteoric impacts. Tsunamis can also occur in large lakes.

There have been 11 tsunamis in Canada since 1903, a total of 45 people died in Canada. In 1929 there was a tsunami with waves of 3–8 metres along the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland.

Tsunami Warning Signs

  • One of the signs of a potential tsunami is the occurrence of a very large earthquake that lasts for more than 20 seconds. If an area has been shaken by a very large earthquake, one should be on alert that shorelines located within the radius of the earthquake's epicentre, may be hit by a tsunami.

  • A more immediate and ominous sign of an approaching tsunami is a rapid and unexpected recession of water levels below the expected low tide. This can occur minutes before the shoreline is struck by a tsunami and can be the only sign along coastlines that are located too far from the earthquake epicentre to have felt the shaking.

  • A tsunami may also occur with very little warning.

  • Natural Resources Canada's seismologists monitor for such events, around the clock. As soon as possible, a tsunami warning is issued to media and municipalities in regions where a tsunami is likely to hit.

  • The Canadian Coast Guard's Marine Communications Traffic Services broadcasts tsunami alerts to mariners.

  • When you get warning of a tsunami, if there is time, move to higher ground immediately.

During a tsunami

  • Do not go near the shore to watch a tsunami hit. If you can see it, you are too close to escape.

  • Should a tsunami occur and you cannot get to higher ground, stay inside where you are protected from the water. It's best to be on the landward side of the house, away from windows.

  • Often tsunamis occur in multiple waves that can occur minutes apart, but also as much as one hour apart.

  • Monitor the tsunami's progress and listen for warnings or instructions from local officials.

  • If you are safe when the first tsunami hits, stay put until authorities declare all is safe.

  • After a tsunami hits, you may encounter floodwaters. Floodwaters can be dangerous to walk or drive through. Before driving anywhere, it is best to listen carefully to rescue officials who will be coordinating evacuation plans.

  • Be aware of risks such as hypothermia from cold water or drowning from running water.

  • Your local chapter of St. John Ambulance or Red Cross can provide more information on how to prevent these problems.


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