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World Tsunami Awareness Day

This topic provides information about the World Tsunami Awareness Day - 5th November of every year.

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Tsunamis are rare. But they can be extremely deadly. In the past 100 years, more than 260,000 people have perished in 58 separate tsunamis. At an average of 4,600 deaths per disaster, the toll has surpassed any other natural hazard. Tsunamis know no borders, making international cooperation key for deeper political and public understanding of risk reduction measures. As a result, the UN General Assembly has designated 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day and called on the world to mark it. Each edition of the annual day will be thematic: the focus in 2016 is effective education and evacuation drills. The date of 5 November was chosen in honour of a true story from Japan: “Inamura-no-hi”, which means the “burning of the rice sheaves”. During an 1854 earthquake, a farmer saw the tide receding, a sign of a looming tsunami. He set fire to his harvested rice to warn villagers, who fled to high ground. In the aftermath, he helped his community build back better to withstand future shocks, constructing an embankment and planting trees as a tsunami buffer. The UN General Assembly has tasked the UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) to facilitate the observance of World Tsunami Awareness Day in collaboration with the rest of the United Nations system.

Tsunamis are rare. But they can be extremely deadly. In the past 100 years, more than 260,000 people have perished in 58 separate tsunamis. At an average of 4,600 deaths per disaster, the toll has surpassed any other natural hazard. Tsunamis know no borders, making international cooperation key for deeper political and public understanding of risk reduction measures.

As a result, the UN General Assembly has designated 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day and called on the world to mark it. The date of 5 November was chosen in honour of a true story from Japan: “Inamura-no-hi”, which means the “burning of the rice sheaves”. During an 1854 earthquake, a farmer saw the tide receding, a sign of a looming tsunami. He set fire to his harvested rice to warn villagers, who fled to high ground. In the aftermath, he helped his community build back better to withstand future shocks, constructing an embankment and planting trees as a tsunami buffer.

The observance of the day would help to spread awareness among people across the world in matters related to the dangers of tsunami and shall stress on the importance of early warning systems in order to mitigate damage from the often devastating natural hazard. It also aims at reviving traditional knowledge about tsunamis.

World Tsunami Awareness Day 2017

Each edition of the annual day will be thematic.

For the second year in a row, the World Tsunami Awareness Day aligned with the International Day for Disaster Reduction and the "Sendai Seven Campaign" and focussed in 2017 on Target B of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which aims at reducing the number of affected people globally by disasters.

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Facts about Tsunami

What is a tsunami and where do they happen?

A tsunami is a series of waves caused by a large, sudden disturbance of the sea. Undersea earthquakes are the most common cause, but landslides, volcanic activity, certain types of weather, and meteorites can also cause tsunamis.

Most tsunami waves are less than 10 feet high. In extreme events, they can exceed 100 feet. Large tsunamis can flood more than a mile inland. The first wave may not be the largest or most damaging, and the danger may last for hours or days. Tsunamis are a serious threat to life and property. Even small tsunamis can be dangerous, especially to swimmers, surfers, and boats in harbors.

Tsunamis can strike any coast. Low-lying areas such as beaches, bays, lagoons, harbors, river mouths and areas along rivers and streams leading to the ocean are the most vulnerable. Tsunamis can happen any time, any season, and during any weather. They can be generated far away (across the ocean) or locally. Local tsunamis can arrive just minutes after a disturbance.

How will I be warned about a tsunami?

There are two types of tsunami warnings: official and natural. Both are important. You may not get both. Respond immediately to whichever you receive first.

Official tsunami warnings

These warnings are broadcast through radio, television, and wireless emergency alerts. They may also come through outdoor sirens, officials, text message alerts, and telephone notifications.

In India, the Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre hosted at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) in Hyderabad, Telangana is one of three regional centres of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS). The Indian system will issue both national and regional alerts from its system, with color coding to differentiate “warnings”, “alerts” and “watches” at national level, and “threat” or “no threat” status to Indian Ocean nations. Messages will go out over SMS, email, global telecommunication system (GTS) and fax, with links to a web-based bulletin system, public within India and accessible via password to the 24 participating countries.

For the latest Earthquake / Tsunami Information bulletin, click here.

Natural warnings include:

  • A strong or long earthquake
  • A loud roar (like a train or an airplane) from the ocean
  • Unusual ocean behavior (the ocean could look like a fast-rising flood or a wall of water or it could drain away suddenly like a very low tide)

If you experience any of these natural warnings, even just one, a tsunami could be coming.

How do I respond to a tsunami warning?

If you are in a tsunami hazard zone and receive an official warning:

  • Stay out of the water and away from beaches and waterways.
  • Get more information from radio, television, or your mobile device (text or data).
  • If officials ask you to evacuate, move quickly to a safe place. Follow evacuation signs or go as high or far inland (away from the water) as possible.

If you are in a tsunami hazard zone and receive a natural warning, a tsunami could arrive within minutes:

  • In case of an earthquake, protect yourself. Drop, cover, and hold on. Be prepared for aftershocks. Each time the earth shakes, drop, cover, and hold on.
  • Take action. Do not wait for an official warning or instructions from officials.
  • As soon as you can move safely, move quickly to a safe place. Follow evacuation signs or go as high or far inland (away from the water) as possible.
  • If there is earthquake damage, avoid fallen power lines, and stay away from weakened structures.
  • When you are in a safe place, get more information from radio, television, or your mobile device (text or data).

If you are on the beach or near water and feel an earthquake of any size and length, move quickly to high ground or inland (away from the water) as soon as you can move safely. Get more information from radio, television, or your mobile device (text or data).

If you are outside of the tsunami hazard zone and receive a warning, stay where you are unless officials tell you otherwise.

What should I do after a tsunami?

  • Stay out of the tsunami hazard zone until officials say it is safe. The cancellation of a warning does not mean danger has passed.
  • Stay out of any building with damage or water around it until a professional or official says it is safe.
  • Get updates and safety instructions from radio, television, or your mobile device (text or data).

Source : Tsunami Awareness & Safety

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