• Systematic and coordinated perception and preparedness studies of communities with near-field tsunami sources.

  • Consistent education among NTHMP members using evidence-based approaches in the social and behavioral sciences that is evaluated and archived.

  • A TsunamiReady Program that is based on professional and modern emergency management standards.

  • A review of the format, content, and style of tsunami warning center (TWC) warning messages, and how dispatchers and emergency personnel understand the messages.

  • The consolidation of the two TWC messages.

  • Formal attention and planning given to outreach efforts at the TWCs.

  • Strong local/state working groups that share best practices and lessons learned.

  • Guidelines on the design and an inventory of tsunami-related exercises.


Tsunamis are natural events that threaten coastal communities. Effective public education and emergency management can prepare individuals and reduce the likelihood of fatalities when tsunamis occur. Education is credited for saving thousands of lives during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2009 Samoan tsunami, and the 2010 Chilean tsunami (Box 3.1), and education will save lives in future tsunamis that strike U.S. communities. Ultimately, the ability to survive a tsunami hinges on at-risk individuals having the knowledge and ability to make correct decisions and act quickly. For local tsunamis, waves will arrive in minutes after generation and at-risk individuals need to understand that natural cues (e.g., prolonged ground shaking, shoreline draw down) may be their only warning, that local officials will not be capable of assisting them, and that the knowledge and readiness they acquire through pre-event education could save their lives. For tsunamis generated at greater distance from coastal communities, the ground shaking might be too weak to alert residents of the imminent danger, but waves may arrive anywhere from an hour to many hours after generation. In these instances, individuals need to understand where official warnings may come from, how they may receive the warnings, what those warnings might say, and what they need to do in response to those warnings.

Regardless of tsunami sources, integrated public education and preparedness planning provide the context in which individuals will perceive, process, and react to future warnings. Education and planning are long-term, ongoing efforts that strive to make tsunami knowledge and preparedness commonplace and ingrained into local culture and folk wisdom. Enculturation requires a major commitment and diverse efforts to achieve this goal; however, once accomplished, it can perpetuate itself. This chapter discusses four areas in which targeted education-related efforts can increase the likelihood that people will be able to evacuate before tsunamis arrive and that agencies will be able to execute effective evacuations, such as:

  • Educating at-risk individuals in advance about what they need to know to prepare for and respond to tsunamis;

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