In 2004, a tsunami swept over certain parts of Southeast Asia, which extended up to Africa. More than 200,000 people perished with some bodies never identified or recovered.
The incident is not the first but one of many that have happened over the centuries. It is not only in the Pacific but also in the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, which makes it everyone’s concern.
History shows that tsunamis have occurred dating from 1600 B.C until the present with the latest in July that killed more than 600 people in the island of Indonesia.
Until now, the exact location where tsunamis will strike cannot yet be predicted. Once an underground earthquake occurs, an alert is sent to coastal communities that something could go in that direction.
Since the Pacific is known throughout the world as the ring of fire due to the numerous underwater volcanoes, it is only right that a tsunami emergency alert system is in place to prepare people for the worse.
The tragic event that took place never had such a system. It was only after that regional governments decided to come up with one to prevent it from happening again.
The alert system is made up of four things.
This is namely information, advisory, watch and warning.
When an underground earthquake has been detected, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center based in Hawaii will issue the news to the countries in the region.
Since the impact is not yet known, an advisory will be sent about possible areas that will be hit. There is a saying that goes, “ it is better to be safe than sorry.” The prediction may not happen but this is better than having a lot of casualties because the no warning was reported.
The after effects of the underwater earthquake may take hours but everyone knows that the tsunami is coming. This is the time that people in the coastal communities should watch over the water. If it recedes, then a warning will be given to everyone that a mandatory evacuation must begin.
A siren is usually used to inform everyone. This will sound at different times starting from three hours before impact until half an hour before the tidal waves are supposed to hit the beach.
During this time, residents should already begin moving out of the danger zone. People can go deeper inland or run to the hills. It will be a good idea to bring water, food and clothing. Packing a light transistor radio will also be helpful to be able to stay informed when it is safe to come down.
The tsunami emergency preparation does not end when the reports predict that it is on the way. People will still be there monitoring the situation to issue a warning cancellation if nothing happened or if it is safe to return.
Countries that live in the Pacific Rim of Fire must coordinate with each other to minimize the loss of life. This is because it is much easier to rebuild and impossible to replace someone who died. Community leaders should hold exercises to time how long it takes to evacuate the area so that everyone will be ready when the real thing hits the shores. A headcount can be done to find out if there are any people still missing should the inevitable strike.