Be Familiar with the Tsunami Warning Signs
All tsunamis are potentially dangerous, even though they may not damage every coastline they strike. Damaging tsunamis, like that which occurred in Asia in December 2004, are very rare. While our coastlines are vulnerable, tsunamis are infrequent. Understand the hazard and learn how to protect yourself, but don’t let the threat of tsunamis ruin your enjoyment of the beach.
At the moment there is no tsunami warning system for Jamaica. You must, therefore, become familiarized with the warning signs.
- An earthquake is a natural tsunami warning. If you feel a strong quake do not stay in a place where you are exposed to a tsunami, such as at the beach or if you live along the coastline. If you hear of an earthquake be aware of the possibility of a tsunami and listen to the radio or television for additional information. Remember that an earthquake can trigger killer waves thousands of miles across the ocean many hours after the event generated a tsunami.
- Witnesses have reported that an approaching tsunami is sometimes preceded by a noticeable fall or rise in the water level. If you see the ocean receding unusually rapidly or far it's a good sign that a big wave is on its way. Go to high ground immediately.
Many people were killed by the Indian Ocean tsunami because they went down to the beach to view the retreating ocean exposing the seafloor. Experts believe that a receding ocean may give people as much as five minutes’ warning to evacuate the area.
Several persons in Thailand run away from the approaching tsunami in December 2004, while others stop to look.
- Remember that a tsunami is a series of waves and that the first wave may not be the most dangerous. The danger from a tsunami can last for several hours after the arrival of the first wave. A tsunami wave train may come as a series of surges that are five minutes to an hour apart. The cycle may be marked by a repeated retreat and advance of the ocean. Stay out of danger until you hear it is safe.
Survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami reported that the sea surged out as fast and as powerfully as it came ashore. Many people were seen being swept out to sea when the ocean retreated.
- A tsunami surge may be small at one point of the shore and large at another point a short distance away. Do not assume that because there is minimal sign of a tsunami in one place it will be like that everywhere else.
- Tsunamis can travel up rivers and streams that lead to the ocean. Stay away from rivers and streams that lead to the ocean, as you would stay away from the beach and ocean if there is a tsunami.
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