COMMUNITY-BASED TSUNAMI PREPAREDNESS
International Tsunami Evacuation Drills
Tsunami exercises and drills are excellent ways to increase tsunami preparedness and awareness in coastal communities. Regular exercises are essential to maintain operational readiness of response agencies for the real event, and especially important because of the infrequent occurrence of tsunamis. Exercises evaluate the ability to respond to a local, regional, or ocean wide tsunami. Exercises test communications, review agency standard operating procedures, and promote emergency preparedness.
At the local level, government disaster agencies, community organizations, and citizens groups can work together to organize an evacuation drill of low-lying areas. Tsunami drills by schools are effective ways to educate school children about tsunami’s natural warning signs, and what to do when a tsunami warning occurs. When media are invited to cover and participate in drills, it raises tsunami awareness in the community as a whole.
There are many levels of exercises and drills from a simple table top communications test to a simulated end-to-end warning and evacuation scenario. Similarly, exercises can be conducted only within a department or organization, or involve entire communities, states, provinces, a country, or internationally, many countries comprising an entire ocean basin. Exercise formats can range from a simple orientation workshop informing officials about what to expect, to discussion simulations between responders, or as fully involved, real-time exercises.