Quite a strange topic for a common man in the street, isn’t it? Still, beneficial information to survive. Say you don’t need it? This won’t happen to you? That you are not living in a tsunami risk zone? Have your areas never had an earthquake? Or do you think that waves of 100 feet do not exist? Is it possible that the local authorities will warn you about the danger? Tell all this to the people of Japan, India, or Chile, where at one time the most powerful tsunamis struck, which destroyed entire cities and took thousands of lives. No one expected such an outcome. No one knew in advance that a huge uncontrollable water wall was rushing to the shore. Local residents were absolutely unprepared for evacuation and had no idea what to do in such situations. The result was tragic consequences that the whole world still cannot forget.

This article was written so that people become more aware of how to survive a tsunami, mostly from the Pacific ocean. We will consider what a tsunami is, how and what it appears, and what measures must be taken in a surviving situation.

Raise Your Awareness

A tsunami is a natural phenomenon that appears as a result of underground earthquakes, mainly underwater ones. The earth’s crust is composed of tectonic plates. At their junctions, a phenomenon sometimes occurs when one tectonic plate overlaps another. This situation is called a “subduction zone.” At the slightest movement of the plates, a conflict occurs between them, and an earthquake occurs. The plate, which is on top in the subduction zone, rises even higher, raising the seafloor and the waves above it, causing a tsunami.

In addition to earthquakes, tsunamis can cause underwater volcanic eruptions or landslides, and even meteorites. The movement of waves in the sea can reach 500 miles per hour. However, when approaching land, the waves slow down to 20-30 miles per hour. At this time, they begin to grow in height. Wave heights can range from 10 to 100 feet above sea level, and sometimes even more. The greatest danger on land can lie in wait for areas below 25 feet above sea level within one mile of the coast.

Usually, a tsunami is a series of waves, possibly different in size and trajectory of movement. Still, acting on the principle of a stone thrown into the water, there is never one wave. Therefore, it is important to know that there are always other waves during a tsunami.

Stir Clear From Hazard Zone

The most dangerous area for a tsunami is the “ring of fire” of the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, the states of Alaska and Hawaii and the west coast of the United States, Mexico, and all of South America, also Japan coast have the highest risk of being hit by a tsunami. Mega tsunami waves have tremendous strength and can cross oceans and seas and hit the most remote areas, regardless of where the source of the earthquake is.

Residents of zones for which tsunamis are a potential source of danger initially study tsunamis’ nature and how to protect themselves and their loved ones from tsunamis. For this purpose, specially reinforced structures are built, and houses are designed to withstand the destructive force of a tsunami. Special training courses are held for residents, which describe the most crucial actions to be taken in case of a tsunami.

However, most tsunami-prone areas are also, for the most part, popular resort areas visited by tourists. For the most part, tourists coming on vacation are not just prepared to attack huge mega waves but do not even think about the potential danger. On the one hand, it is normal not to think about having to survive a tsunami on your vacation. Still, on the other hand, if you choose a potentially dangerous zone for a tsunami as a place for your vacation, it makes sense to be aware of the situation.

Remember About Science

Besides, special scientists who study tsunamis’ nature are constantly scanning dangerous areas and doing motion simulation. Thanks to them, scientists can predict tremors and wave trajectory to warn in advance the inhabitants of the area, which will become the point of destruction of the tsunami, how much time they have before the first impact. An evacuation plan can be developed and safely taken care of in advance without sudden panic with these warning systems.

Fast forward to the history of the most destructive tsunamis. One of them was the Indian Ocean tsunami that hit the coast in 2004. One of the reasons the tsunami killed 230,000 people and was devastating was that the tsunami was sudden. Local residents did not know that a tsunami was approaching, and we’re not ready for evacuation. Local authorities did not develop scenarios to save the population. This disaster stimulated scientists to monitor the situation, and now the coastal countries of the Indian Ocean are much better prepared for such a situation.

So how to survive a tsunami? Such a dangerous and large-scale natural phenomenon, of course, is difficult to overcome on your own. However, with the information you find in this article, it will become much easier to survive such a terrible disaster. It is impossible to simulate a tsunami situation fully; therefore, most of the tips for surviving a tsunami were identified based on global disasters. Scientists obtained surviving video footage from the streets where the tsunami occurred and replayed the events by analyzing water and city structures’ behavior.

Get Ready

But from the very beginning, when there are no tsunami harbingers, preparation is needed to stay alive in a possible natural cataclysm. Check on the Internet, on the local website, and read articles, if there was a tsunami or earthquake in your area, what were the consequences and what fortifications were built. Check your home, how high ground it stays on above sea level, for tsunami fortifications, how high it is, and in what type of terrain: lowlands or hills. Also, you need to find out what warning sirens are used by the local authorities to notify the population about the impending tsunami and earthquake.

1. Prepare a first aid kit

If you live or temporarily live in areas with a high tsunami risk, you need to take care of your first aid kit in a protective bag, which must include a flashlight, essential medications such as antiseptics, bandages, and pain relievers, communication equipment (walkie-talkies), articles about surviving, maps, and, if possible, rations and radio for any evacuation route signs and information from the country government. All components must be designed for each family member and located in a prominent, easily accessible place that all family members know about. Also, do not forget about the necessary things for your pets.

2. Develop Evacuation Plans

Develop a plan for a possible evacuation. It is best to do this with your family and immediate neighbors or colleagues. Discuss possible scenarios for the development of events, considering that you are in different locations. Whether you are sitting at home on the weekend or at work, whether your children are at home or school. Who in what case will take care of them and deliver them to a safe place. Decide the meeting point for all participants in the evacuation and the evacuation route. Keep in mind that part of the roads will be destroyed after the earthquake, so it makes sense to develop several routes in advance. Ideally, it would be to arrange a tsunami survival rehearsal with all the participants in your company to drive the necessary routes to work confidently and harmoniously in times of danger. For evacuation zones, select a concrete building with a radio on higher ground and provide the road by evacuation route signs.

If you need to know how to live through a tsunami, first of all, you do not need to think about saving property. The main thing is to stay alive on your own so that your loved ones are safe. Recheck your evacuation backpack. It should be small, so you don’t restrain movement.

3. Mind Warning Signs

One of the most important knowledge when a disaster strike is the warning signs of a tsunami. Knowing ahead of time that a first wave is coming will give you time for safer evacuation routes. In this case, there is a chance not to suffer from the hazard zone at all and to save a more important part of your property. Now we will consider what important signs of nature you need to pay attention to avoid misfortune.

  • Earthquake

It can be directly in a residential area. In this case, most likely, a tsunami will come in the shortest possible time. To save your own life, you need to leave the coast at least 2 miles inland, and if there is no time, then find a hill that is at least 100 feet high and climb to its top. Follow local news. The hydrometeorological center is trying to supply emergency information to the population as soon as possible about the occurred underwater earthquakes that occurred far from land. In this case, you have more time to make evacuation decisions. There is time to pack up the necessary things and leave with your family away from the evacuation zone’s coast.

  • Exposed seabed

Another tsunami warning is the exposed seabed on the shore. The ocean takes water inside itself, filling it with a mega wave. Simultaneously, the coastal line will retreat several meters, leaving behind sand and bare reefs. In this case, you can hear a sound similar to the roar of an airplane or train. This is a clear sign of an impending tsunami.

  • Pet behavior

Pets can be indicators of impending danger. If pets begin to behave strangely and try to leave the house’s territory, get lost in groups, and look for a secluded place when they usually do not do this, you should pay attention to this and check for the possibility of a disaster.

Earthquake on the High Ocean

When an earthquake or other tsunami warning caught you on the high ocean, the best survival solution would be to stay at sea and go deep into the ocean. It may sound crazy. However, on the high seas, the wave can pass you by. In the worst case, you will be carried further into the sea, but you will avoid the moment when the wave hits the coast, destroying everything in its path.

You need to know what real power tsunamis represent. It is a huge wall of water, sometimes more than 100 feet above sea level, of incredible strength, capable of lifting boulders from the ground and demolishing buildings from their foundations. Waves from the Pacific ocean of a tsunami can cover all your city. Therefore, if you find yourself in a tsunami waves stream, you should not think it will be like swimming on the beach.

1. Find a High Ground

If time is too short and you are on land, the main thing is to always go miles inland on the high ground, ideally uphill. Never stop and keep going. Please note that using a vehicle such as a car is not always the best idea. In a panic situation, if everyone gets into their cars to leave the coast from a series of waves, there will be a traffic jam, and traffic will stop.

When evacuating, avoid near streams and rivers. Tsunami penetrates inland more easily and much faster, thanks to streams, and raises the water level. Another tsunami hazard is the electricity that travels through power lines.

2. Shelter in the City

If you have not noticed the warning signs and the tsunami caught you by surprise, and there is no way to escape away from the coast, you need to find shelter in the city. It is important to know – if you see a wave, it is too late to run. Its speed will hit you before you are at a safe distance. Consider options that are suitable as a tsunami shelter.

For a shelter, spacious buildings are suitable, which are strong enough to withstand the onslaught of the waves and are high enough not to be completely covered with waves and accommodate many people. In this case, it is less likely that the building will not fall from the wave’s force. In settlements with a high tsunami or earthquake risk, special buildings are being designed to shelter from earthquakes and tsunamis. Usually, these are schools or gyms. Check what buildings in your city are created for such a shelter.

3. Shelter on Higher Ground Above Sea Level

There are also evacuation towers, which are also created specifically to combat tsunamis. They are built so that they open part of the wall, creating gaps for water passage during the collapse of the wave. With this trick, the structure’s pressure is reduced, and there is a better chance of the rescue tower’s stability.

If there are no similar buildings around, a solid reinforced concrete building will do. You need to climb on the higher ground and go to the roof. A tall hotel with a concrete foundation is also suitable as a refuge if there is no other suitable option.

In the absence of buildings around, presumably, it is possible to stay alive by climbing to the tree’s top. Pick a sturdier tree trunk and climb as high as possible. Use the tree as a survival tool only as a last resort, as there is a risk of being dragged underwater by a tsunami. A tree standing on a hill with spreading branches, on which it is possible to settle for a long time, is best suited. The tsunami onslaught can last for several hours.

4. Find Something that Floats

There will be many debris in the water column that hit the city, including huge fragments of houses, cars, trees, and much more. This still poses a danger to those who find themselves in the water. Debris from roofs and concrete pillars can harm or even kill. The safest way to survive in the water is not to stay in the water. Among the debris, find something that floats that can be used as a raft. Tree trunks, doors, and other wooden structures are suitable for evacuation from the water to nearby buildings or structures to not stay in the water.

5. Stay Away From Water

If you still think it is safer to stay in the water than on a potentially sturdy building, this is not the case. There is another reason to leave the waves as soon as possible. During the collapse on the shore, the wave spreads over the entire surface of the earth, to which it can reach. The bubbling currents create a foaming layer in which it is almost impossible to stay afloat, and there is a high risk of suffocation. Besides, underwater currents are formed in it, trying with special zeal to drag you under the water. Once underwater, it isn’t easy to emerge to the surface. Besides, underwater debris is still a huge danger. Many drivers mistakenly believe that they can survive a tsunami while wearing equipment underwater; however, the underwater currents are so strong that it is almost impossible to stay alive when they move.

6. Expect for a Second Wave

After the first wave has covered the land, it will still retreat over time, taking with it some of the wreckage of cars and buildings and other debris. At this moment, after the first wave, it may seem that the biggest danger is over. This is a misconception. We remember that a tsunami is a series of waves that never stop at just one. The second wave can be much stronger than the first and can take more lives. And on the second wave, the tsunami may not stop. It may continue for long hours.

7. Listen to the Radio

To understand that everything is over, you need to follow the information from the local authorities on the radio. Perhaps this is the only means of communication that remained after the tsunami. As soon as the wave series is over, the authorities will announce it through a central alert. Inquire in advance in what form such notification will occur so as not to ignore or miss it. Only after this announcement can you breathe out without waiting for the next wave. From this moment, rescue operations begin to work, and it is useful for you to return to the house. Spread this information to as many people as possible.

8. Avoid Destruction

But survival does not end at this stage. The damage that the mega wave has brought with it is, for the most part, irreparable. After the water recedes, destroyed houses, twisted cars, fragments of trees and concrete pillars, corpses of people will remain in its place, and all this is in complete disarray. The tsunami might not have destroyed some of the structures, but it could significantly weaken their structures and cripple many people. Therefore, choose especially carefully and think several times whether it is worth entering a particular building or driving over bridges and suspended motorways. Low-lying areas could sink even lower and most likely remained flooded by running waters. If your path lies in one of these zones, it is worth checking the situation in advance.

9. Survive After the Tsunami

After the tsunami subsides, your area will plunge into chaos and general panic. Debris from infrastructure, lack of electricity and fresh water supplies, food, most likely also missing. In such conditions of panic, people go crazy, which becomes as dangerous as the tsunami itself. In this case, the first step is to take care of your own safety, the safety of your family, and your neighbors.

Make sure that your family is safe, and then organize a rehabilitation plan among your survivor neighbors. Build a shelter on high ground. Unless the local authorities have given specific evacuation orders, gather a team to draw up a plan of action after the tsunami. Check victim assistance from the earthquake and tsunami website to find any help. Consider this list of the essentials for tsunami survival:

  • Fresh water supply.
  • Organization of dwellings among undisturbed houses. If, after the tsunami, your home miraculously survived, you are lucky. However, not all people are so lucky, and their homes’ ruins are scattered all over the coast. In this case, you need to show hospitality and help your neighbors by sheltering them, for the first time, while they were left homeless.
  • Heat generators for food preparation and toilet procedures.
  • Organization of food.
  • Creation of a first aid station.
  • Fire extinguishing and gas leak localization.


A tsunami is an understudied phenomenon, to know in advance where and when it will happen. Thus, disaster cannot be avoided in advance. Therefore, everything is done to ensure that people are prepared for the situation, including our article. To survive a tsunami, you need to be a lucky person. But with the knowledge and advice from our article on how to survive a tsunami, it is much easier not to panic and clearly follow the evacuation advice to survive a tsunami attack.


A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.




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