Tsunami: Know Your Risk, Know What to Do

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami raised local awareness about the risks posed to the west coast of the United States. The risk is not just from a far-source event such as in Japan or Chile, but also the risk posed by a near-source event such as a local earthquake.

During the last week of March, Federal, State and local emergency officials will ask residents and visitors along the ocean to take a moment to learn more about their risks of a tsunami and what actions are needed. Local emergency managers, government officials and partnering agencies are using the entire month of March to remind people of the easy actions they can take in case of a very large local earthquake that may generate a tsunami. Part of that reminder is this email tag line:

“A BIG earthquake means “Move Away” from the ocean. Learn about your Tsunami Risk in Santa Barbara County. Tsunami Inundation Maps”

A local earthquake, large enough to knock you down or make it almost impossible to stand, is your alarm to immediately move away from the ocean.

While Santa Barbara County is at a lower risk for tsunamis because of our landscape and the type of earthquake faults found locally, there is still a risk. The coastal cities and the County of Santa Barbara have worked together to place tsunami signs in vulnerable areas. These signs serve as a reminder and an educational tool for people who are entering a vulnerable area.

“As with any of the risks our residents face, this is a risk that people should be aware of, and be prepared to take action”, stated Michael Harris, Emergency Operations Chief for Santa Barbara County. Harris went on to say, “It is the local major earthquake that people need to be particularly aware of. An earthquake that knocks you off your feet requires that you move away from the ocean coastline and toward higher ground. The media and emergency officials will advise you of any tsunami warnings as scientists determine the threat.”


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