What to do after a tsunami

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 Tsunami brochure

After a tsunami

  • Stay tuned to a local radio station for updated emergency information. The tsunami may have damaged roads, bridges or other places, making them unsafe.
  • Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if necessary before helping injured or trapped persons.
  • If someone needs to be rescued, call professionals with the right equipment to help - many people have been killed or injured trying to rescue others in flooded areas.
  • Help people who require special assistance – infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls as telephone lines are frequently overwhelmed in disaster situations.

In areas affected by the tsunami

  • Avoid areas impacted in a tsunami emergency - your presence might hamper rescue and other emergency operations and put you at further risk from the residual effects of floods, such as contaminated water, crumbled roads, landslides, mudflows, and other hazards.
  • Stay out of a building if water remains around it. Tsunami water, like floodwater, can undermine foundations, causing buildings to sink, floors to crack, or walls to collapse.
  • When re-entering buildings or homes, use extreme caution. Tsunami-driven floodwater may have damaged buildings where you least expect it.
  • Watch for loose plaster and wall and ceiling linings that could fall.
  • Take pictures of the damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims. Open the windows and doors to help dry the building.
  • Shovel mud out before it solidifies.
  • Check food supplies. Any food that has come in contact with floodwater may be contaminated and should be thrown out.

Fire, gas and electrical hazards

  • Be aware of fire hazards.There may be broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, or submerged furnaces or electrical appliances.
  • Flammable or explosive materials may have come from upstream.
  • Fire is the most frequent hazard following floods.
  • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone outside quickly. Turn off the gas using the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbour’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
  • Be aware of electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell burning insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker.
  • If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice. Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before being returned to service.

Water and sewerage hazards

  • Check for damage to sewage and water lines. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap.
  • You can obtain safe water from undamaged water heaters or by melting ice cubes that were made before the tsunami hit. Turn off the main water valve before draining water from these sources.
  • Use tap water only if local health officials advise it is safe.


  • Expect aftershocks if the earthquake was very large (magnitude 8-9+ on the Richter scale) and located nearby.
  • Some aftershocks could be as large as magnitude 7+ and capable of generating another tsunami.
  • The number of aftershocks will decrease over the course of several days, weeks, or months depending on how large the main shock was.


  • Watch your animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
  • Hazardous materials abound in flooded areas and may present a threat to the well being of you pet.
  • Be aware that your pet may be able to escape from your home or through a broken fence.
  • Pets may become disoriented, particularly because flooding usually affects scent markers that normally allow them to find their homes.
  • The behaviour of pets may change dramatically after any disruption, becoming aggressive or defensive, so be aware of their well-being and take measures to protect them from hazards, including displaced wild animals, and to ensure the safety of other people and animals.

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