FAQ

For Users of Sea Vessels

  1. Since tsunami waves cannot be seen in the open ocean, do not return to port if you are at sea and a tsunami warning has been issued. Port facilities may become damaged and hazardous with debris. Listen to mariner radio reports when it is safe to return to port.
  2. Tsunamis can cause rapid changes in water level and unpredictable dangerous currents that are magnified in ports and harbors. Damaging wave activity can continue for many hours following initial tsunami impact. Contact the harbor authority or listen to mariner radio reports. Make sure that conditions in the harbor are safe for navigation and berthing.
  3. Boats are safer from tsunami damage while in the deep ocean (> 100 m) rather than moored in a harbor. But, do not risk your life and attempt to motor your boat into deep water if it is too close to wave arrival time. Anticipate slowdowns caused by traffic gridlock and hundreds of other boaters heading out to sea.
  4. For a locally-generated tsunami, there will be no time to motor a boat into deep water because waves can come ashore within minutes. Leave your boat at the pier and physically move to higher ground.
  5. For a tele-tsunami generated far away, there will be more time (one or more hours) to deploy a boat. Listen for official tsunami wave arrival time estimates and plan accordingly.
  6. Most large harbors and ports are under the control of a harbor authority and/or a vessel traffic system. These authorities direct operations during periods of increased readiness, including the forced movement of vessels if deemed necessary. Keep in contact with authorities when tsunami warnings are issued.

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During a Tsunami

  1. Follow official guidance but do not wait for an official warning before evacuating as authorities may not have enough time to issue a Tsunami Warning.
  2. If you are at the beach and recognize signs of a tsunami - such as a severe ground shaking, the sea pulling back significantly from the shoreline or an unusual roar from the ocean - leave the area and move immediately to higher ground. 
  3. Sometimes, tsunamis may occur without the initial pulling back of the sea. In this case, a massive wall of water may be seen approaching land. If you can see the wave, you are already too close to outrun it. 
  4. If you are unable to move to higher ground, go to an upper floor (at least the 3rd storey) or roof of a concrete and reinforced building. As a last resort, climb a strong tree if trapped on low ground. 
  5. If swept up by a tsunami, look for something to use as a raft. 
  6. A tsunami is not a single wave but a series of waves that can come ashore for hours. 
  7. The first wave may not be the largest. 
  8. If a Tsunami Warning is issued, NEVER go down to the beach to watch the waves come in. 
  9. Do not try to surf the tsunami. 
  10. Stay out of danger areas until an “ALL-CLEAR” is issued by a recognized authority e.g. your local disaster management office. A tsunami can last for hours.

 

Can tsunamis occur in the Caribbean or its adjacent regions?

At least 75 tsunamis have impacted the Caribbean and adjacent regions within the last 500 years.  All known sources capable of causing tsunamis are found within the Caribbean and adjacent regions and there is also a risk from distant sources across the Atlantic.  Some countries within the Caribbean and adjacent regions are also exposed to tsunamis along their Pacific coastlines.

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