What to Do When a Tsunami Hits the Oregon Coast

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When living on or visiting the Oregon Coast, tsunamis should always be on the mind. Given the realities of the fault lines just off the coast, everyone should know what to do when the big one comes. You don’t want to think about it for the first time as the wave is coming to shore.

Below we’ve put what you need to have ready for the day, and the steps to take once you know it’s on the way.



First, let’s talk about the two different type of tsunamis possible on the Oregon coast.

Local Tsunamis

Local tsunamis are tsunamis caused by a local earthquake and generally hit the shore within 15-20 minutes of first feeling the quake. Generally, these are the main concern with the Oregon coast, as there will be relatively little time to react once the earthquake it is felt. The earthquake itself will likely be the only warning you get when a tsunami is coming.

Distant Tsunamis

Distant tsunamis are tsunamis formed so far away you will not even feel the earthquake causing it. Generally, these take 4 or more hours to reach shore. Since no shaking can be felt, there will be a 3-minute siren blast (if your area has sirens) to indicate a tsunami is coming.


What to do Before the Tsunami Comes

Preparing for what to do when the tsunami is minutes from shore will give you the best shot at survival the day it actually comes.

Prepare these items to give yourself the best chance at survival.

Emergency Kit

Every home should have an emergency kit ready.

This kit should be stocked at all times and include:

  • A local map showing your evacuation route
  • Medications, prescription list, and medical consent forms
  • First aid kit
  • Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Whistle
  • Good shoes, change of clothes, and a blanket
  • Cash
  • Local emergency numbers
  • Non-perishable food
  • Bottled water or water treatment kit
  • Rain gear
  • Tent, Sleeping bag and blankets
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Personal care items
  • Hand crank radio

Know Your Evacuation Plan and Route

Knowing your evacuation route for the moments before the tsunami makes landfall may allow you to reach safety in less time. The last thing you want when a tsunami is about to reach land is to waste precious time devising an evacuation plan.

Consult this list of Tsunami Evacuation Route Maps to know where you should evacuate in different areas of your community.

Make sure your family knows the location of your home’s emergency kit and the plan of action for the moments after the quake.

Always at the ready

Purchasing a RescuePod

In some locations, no matter how much preparation is done, you will not escape the rushing waters of a tsunami. If you live or have a beach home in one of these locations, a RescuePod is a life-saving option.

A RescuePod is a buoyant tsunami capsule giving you the best chance to survive a tsunami on the Oregon coast. It includes 3 days rations, a locator beacon, a harnessed seat, and a strong pod able to withstand strong impacts. Place one on your roof to give yourself the best chance for survival for when a tsunami hits the Oregon coast.


What to do During an Earthquake

If a local tsunami is hitting the Oregon Coast, an earthquake will be the first (and likely only) warning before the tsunami hits. While the tsunami is likely the greater danger, getting through the earthquake is also extremely important.

Once you feel the earthquake, you want to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.

  • Drop to the floor, and try to get under a sturdy table or desk, and hold on.
  • If you are inside but there is no table or desk sit on the floor against a wall (away from windows or bookshelves). Do not try to go outside.
  • If outside try to go to a clear area. Avoid power lines, trees, and other hazards.

Wait until the shaking has stopped to move anywhere.


In the Moments After the Earthquake

If the earthquake has lasted more than 20 minutes and you are in a Tsunami Evacuation Zone, it is time to get moving.

Do not wait for any other signal to evacuate. The earthquake is the only signal you will be getting.

If you have a RescuePod, now is the time to get in it and strap in.

If not, you need to consult your evacuation plan and start to evacuate.

  • If you are on the beach: Move to high ground immediately. Even if the earthquake is very small, you are still in extreme danger on the beach.
  • If you are in a Tsunami Hazard Zone, it is time to gather your family, your evacuation kit, and move to a safe area.
  • If you are in a place where evacuation is not possible, climb to the upper floor of a building or climb a tree. This should be used as a last resort only.

When in doubt, you will always want to be moving towards higher ground. You should avoid river channels and low lying coastal areas at all costs.


Once the Tsunami Has Made Land Fall

After the Tsunami has made landfall, hopefully, you have made it to safe ground or are in a RescuePod tsunami capsule.

If not and you have been caught up in the water, try as hard as possible to latch onto a floating object. Do not try to swim against the current to safety. The tsunami has likely picked up heavy debris. Be aware of anything coming towards you and try to avoid these objects.

If you were able to reach safe land, stay there until you have been given the all clear to return to your home. While the tsunami may have appeared to have receded back to sea, there are more waves coming!, These are even more dangerous as they now contain everything – cars, trees, houses – the tsunami took to out to sea the first time.


After the Tsunami

Stay tuned to your NOAA radio for instructions from the authorities. They will be your authority on if the Tsunami event is over. They will also let you know when it is safe to return to your home.

Depending on your community, there will be shelters and medical treatment centers set up. Keep your ears peeled to the radio for instructions on where these places are located.

When going back to your home (which may not be until weeks later), prepare yourself for the worst. Likely your home will be heavily damaged or not there at all. When walking around, look for loose ground and debris.safe. Make sure authorities have okayed returning to the area.

When there is no other option, your best chance for survival is the Reliable Emergency Shelters RescuePod.

Don’t find yourself in a dire situation. Contact Reliable Emergency Shelters today and give yourself the best possible chance for survival.