Tsunami Checklist

A tsunami is a series of traveling ocean waves generated by disturbances associated with earthquakes, landslides or volcanism in oceanic and coastal regions. These waves may continue to arrive for several hours and are capable of causing destruction in coastal areas of Oahu. Generally, all coastal areas of Oahu are vulnerable. A tsunami greater than one meter may be expected to result in additional emergencies such as fires, explosions and hazardous materials incidents. A tsunami may also result in the disruption of utility services and damage to emergency response facilities and transportation routes. Civil and political emergencies such as looting may also occur.

The following is a list of tsunami WATCHES and WARNINGS:

☐ Local Earthquake – An earthquake that causes you to fall or hold on to something to keep from falling is a natural Tsunami WARNING. Initially, protect yourself from the earthquake effects. When the shaking stops, people in evacuation zones should leave immediately.

☐ Urgent Tsunami WARNING – If a significant earthquake occurs in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) will issue an Urgent Tsunami WARNING for those islands which could be affected by tsunami. The WARNING will be announced over radio through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in conjunction with the sounding of Civil Defense sirens. If an Urgent Tsunami WARNING specifically identifies Oahu, leave all designated evacuation zones immediately.

☐ Tsunami WARNING – A tsunami approach has been confirmed. The WARNING will be announced over the radio through the EAS in conjunction with the sounding of Civil Defense sirens. Monitor the radio and be prepared to evacuate when advised or ordered by the Department of Emergency Management.

☐ Tsunami Evacuation – Civil Defense sirens will sound. Turn on radio. Those who are in tsunami evacuation zones must begin evacuation when the evacuation advisory/order is issued by the Department of Emergency Management (usually 3 to 4 hours prior to wave arrival). City buses will leave evacuation zones, and roads will be sealed off by police no later than 45 minutes prior to first wave arrival.

☐ Tsunami WATCH – In the event of a significant earthquake in distant areas of the Pacific Basin, i.e., the Aleutians, Alaska, South America, etc., the PTWC will issue a Tsunami WATCH until a tsunami can be confirmed or discounted.

Refer to Map 5-2 of the 2008 Emergency Resources Guide for the tsunami flood zone.


☐ Know if your house or business is within or outside a tsunami flood zone.

☐ If you are within the tsunami evacuation zone, know the safe transportation routes inland.

☐ Identify the location of gas valves, circuit breakers, fire extinguishers, and water valves. Know how to operate them in the event of an emergency.

☐ Prepare and maintain an emergency survival kit.

☐ If you are a pet owner, refer to the Emergency Preparedness Instructions for Pet Owners.


☐ All WATCH advisories are your signal to prepare. Monitor the radio broadcasts for the upgrade of a WATCH to WARNING status or WATCH cancellation.

☐ Begin a log of activity.

☐ Determine the time remaining to the estimated first wave arrival.

☐ Notify the individual in charge.

☐ Provide alerting information to employees, guests, clients, vendors, passengers, or family members.

☐ Establish an Information/Management Center, if possible.

☐ Conduct discussions with key personnel.

☐ Reaffirm individual/organizational responsibilities.

☐ Consider decisions to be made if a warning is issued.

☐ If the first wave will arrive in 6 hours or less and your business is:

  • Outside of an evacuation zone: −
    • If closed, remain closed and so advise employees.
    • If open, remain open and retain employees, guests, clients, vendors, and/or passengers.
    • Terminate all non-emergency transport/travel.
    • Attempt to stagger the release of those who must leave.
  • Within an evacuation zone:
    • If closed, remain closed and so advise employees.
    • If open, remain open and warn employees, guests, clients, vendors, and/or passengers.
    • Implement pre-planned vertical/horizontal evacuation options.
  • If the first wave is expected to arrive after 6 hours:
    • If closed, remain closed and so advise employees.
    • If open, establish a positive pace of pre-evacuation preparation.
    • Minimize movement of employees, guests, clients, passengers.
    • Time permitting; consider early closure, staggering employee release.
  • Safety. Determine the responsible person to:
    • Care for employees, guests, clients, vendors, passengers.
    • Elderly/disabled considerations, e.g., special appliances, wheelchairs, medications required.
    • Determine impact of any on-going construction.
  • If evacuation is required:
    • Relocate, store, or tie down equipment and loose items.
    • Handle/safeguard hazardous materials on premises.
    • Locate gas/electric shutoff.
  • Security. Determine responsible person for:
    • Guiding/directing evacuation, if required.
    • Surveying evacuated areas, if possible.
    • Maintaining order in non-evacuated facilities.
    • Accounting for employees, guests, clients, vendors, passengers.
  • Emergency Supplies/Equipment. Determine the responsible person for:
    • Backup generator(s)
    • Flashlights
    • Tie-down ropes
    • Portable radios
    • First aid kits
    • Extra batteries
    • Food
    • Water
    • Blankets/air mattresses
  • Personnel. Determine responsible agent for:
    • Number/identification of minimum essential personnel to maintain operations.
    • Impact of employee departures and inability to travel to work.
  • Transportation. Determine the responsible agent for:
    • Impact of delayed departures, arrivals, and deliveries.
    • Vehicle needs and availability.
      • Filing gas tanks
      • Relocating vehicles outside of the evacuation zone.
  • Boat and Ship Status:
    • Servicing and relocating boats to sea (minimum of one mile out) prior to wave arrival time, or to a safe inland location.
  • Aircraft:
    • Relocating outside of the evacuation zone.
    • Protect auxiliary servicing and technical equipment.
    • Identify holding areas and facilities for arriving passengers and baggage.

☐ Protection of vital records (manual and computer). Determine the responsible agent for disposition of cash receipts, computer disks, personnel files, etc.

☐ Communications. Determine:

  • Radio/telephone status
  • Need for messengers during outages
  • How to minimize outgoing telephone calls
  • Response to media inquiries/client complaints
  • How to keep guests and employees informed of situation

☐ Management and staff should review WARNING Checklist.


☐ Civil Defense sirens will sound when a Tsunami WARNING is issued. Immediately turn on the radio for Honolulu DEM instructions to evacuate. Obey all instructions given by Police, Fire and Emergency Management officials.

☐ Minimize outgoing telephone calls.

☐ If you are within an evacuation zone, leave by either walking, taking the bus or driving to a safe area or shelter outside the evacuation zone. Designated City buses will change from normal routing, operate as evacuation shuttles, and pick up evacuees in designated areas. Flag the buses down along their adjusted routes and they will take you, without charge, to within walking distance of one of the shelters. Use the shuttle buses to assist in your evacuation, but do not rely solely on their availability as accidents or unexpected delays could occur.

☐ If you are in a steel and/or concrete building of six or more stories move to the third floor or above and remain there until the “All Clear” is announced. This type of structure should provide adequate protection even if you are within the evacuation zone. Perform the following tasks:

  • Schedule gas and electricity turnoff priorto first wave arrival.
  • Ensure all employees, guests, clients, vendors or passengers are accounted for.
  • Await annoucement of the “All Clear” over the radio and television.
  • Review the “All Clear” checklist.

☐ If you are outside the evacuation zones, you are not in danger. To avoid traffic gridlock, you should curtail non-essential travel, avoid roadways in or near the evacuation zones, and not interfere with the evacuation. Remain in safe areas until the “All Clear” is announced over radio.

☐ Never go to the beach to watch for a tsunami wave. When you are that close, you will probably not escape the wave.

☐ Parents should be familiar with their children’s school’s emergency plan. Schools and daycare centers located within evacuation zones will evacuate according to their plans. Public and certain private schools and daycare centers outside the evacuation zones will remain open and care for children until they can be safely picked up or released.

☐ Implement applicable portions of the guidance contained in the sample Tsunami WATCH Checklist.

☐ Inform employees, guests, clients, vendors, and/or passengers of the Tsunami WARNING and estimated time of first wave arrival.

☐ Secure evacuated facilities by locking them up.

☐ If departing an evacuation zone, turn off gas and electricity.


☐ Receive the “All Clear” over the radio or television.

☐ Follow Honolulu DEM advisories and instructions.

☐ Pay attention to the damaged areas:

  • Road closures
  • Power outages
  • Areas roped off for safety reasons
  • NOTES: Boaters should remain at sea until an “All Clear” is received from the Harbor Master, State Department of Transportation.

☐ Observe the curfew in effect.

☐ Assemble management team on/off-site, as required.

☐ Advise employees, guests, clients, vendors, passengers not to leave safe areas until:

  • Traveling can be safely accomplished
  • Their destinations are determined to be safe
  • If a business was closed, do not open it until the above conditions can be met.

☐ If business or house is within an evacuation zone and has sustained damage, as soon as conditions permit

  • Exercise caution when re-entering the structure. Check for:
    • Structural damage.
    • Electrical short circuits. Do not attempt to turn on any electrically operated lights or machinery until an electrician has checked your system.
    • Gas leaks or other hazardous material spills.
    • Broken water lines.
    • Food and water spoilage or contamination.
  • Determine the status of:
    • Water (operative and potable)
    • Electrical power
    • Communications
    • Fire protection system
    • Elevators
    • Vital records

☐ If damages have occurred:

  • Contact insurance agent
  • Take pictures, if possible
  • Secure contractor support for:
    • Utility/fire protection system restoration.
    • Debris clearance
    • Building repair
    • Handling/safeguarding of hazardous material on premises

☐ Identify and resolve life-threatening or potentially dangerous conditions/situations

☐ Treat and care for injured

☐ Report broken or damaged water, sewer or electrical lines

☐ Notify:

  • 911 for assistance
  • Department of Emergency Management of damages sustained or assistance required
  • American Red Cross of disaster relief needs
  • Employees, guests, clients, vendors, passengers, and media of schedule for resumption of services