Once a tsunami alert is activated, a tsunami evacuation plan should be quickly triggered to guide all potentially affected persons along the evacuation routes to safe places, in time. An effective evacuation plan should be based on the maximal expected wave height and the minimum expected arrival time of possible tsunami waves - the first parameter helps to calculate the area at risk; the second parameter gives an indication of how fast the evacuation has to take place. The evacuation plan should also consider the number of people potentially affected, the location of shelters, distances, accessibility and safety of roads as well in case of a preceding earthquake.
How to design functional and effective evacuation plans for tsunami-prone areas is the subject of a comprehensive guidelines document produced by the EU funded SCHEMA project. The Handbook on Tsunami Evacuation Planning, proposes a hands-on methodology for the preparation of tsunami evacuation plans. The handbook explains, among others, how to identify and mark the identified escape routes and shelters, how to disseminate all information to the affected population and if necessary, how to build additional escape routes and/or safe places.
The existence of a tsunami evacuation plan is crucial for saving lives, however the plan will not work properly if it is not embedded in a comprehensive early warning and response system consisting of a mechanism for detecting the level of tsunami risk on the basis of thorough tsunami impact scenarios, triggering the alert and disseminating the alert message to the population through different communication networks . Furthermore communities in tsunami-prone areas should be prepared to adopt proper protective behaviors when they are reached by a tsunami warning. People should be aware of the general risk and be educated and trained on a regular basis on the implementation of the tsunami evacuation plan.
The handbook also presents the results gathered during interviews with potentially affected persons (Setúbal case study, Portugal) and concludes mentioning the difficulties and limitations that may arise during the preparation of evacuation plans.Download the Handbook on Tsunami Evacuation Planning
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