Tsunami Survival Kit: 15 Items to Include in 2021

According to Tsunami.Gov, tsunamis happen, on average, two times a year worldwide.

Generally speaking, these yearly tsunamis cause damage and deaths that are localized to the source of what caused the wave. 

However, powerful tsunamis can travel hundreds of miles from the source on average twice every ten years. 

In 2004, an earthquake in the Indian Ocean registered at a magnitude of 9.1 and caused a tsunami that resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 people and an estimated cost of damage at $15,000,000,000.

Depending on the source and your distance from it, there can be a tsunami warning issued or they can happen suddenly. 

Because this type of natural disaster can be so devastating and at times unpredictable, it is imperative to be prepared for it whether you live near a coastline or you are just visiting. 

Before preparing a survival kit it may be helpful to know a few things about tsunamis and how to deal with them. 

Tsunami Preparations 

What is a Tsunami?

A tsunami is a series of waves that happen in large lakes, sea, or ocean. They are caused by a large volume of water that is displaced through the effects of earthquakes, landslides either above or below the water’s surface, and volcanic eruptions.

Here’s a detailed video explaining how tsunamis work.

Before It Happens

As mentioned earlier, there can be an advanced warning of an incoming tsunami. 

This warning depends on someone physically seeing a source event enfold or it being detected through scientific instrumentation. 

Either way, once detection is observed a tsunami warning will be issued that will hopefully provide a population enough time to get to safety. 

However, sometimes tsunamis are not detected early enough to give an advanced warning but if a person has good situational awareness, they can notice the main indicator of an incoming tsunami. 

When a source event happens, i.e. an earthquake, there is a large displacement of water. 

This displacement pulls water away from shorelines and out into the main body of water. 

Water that recedes away from a shoreline drastically in a short amount of time is a strong indicator that a tsunami is occurring. When tis happens, you must get to safety quickly. 

Tsunami Dos and Don’ts 

When a tsunami happens, there are few things you can do or not do that will better your chances of staying safe. 

  • When a tsunami warning system has been activated, immediately move as far inland and to the highest elevation possible. 
  • If you are on a beach and notice the water level recede dramatically in a short amount of time, immediately move inland and to the highest elevation possible. DO NOT venture out into the low tide area to investigate what has been uncovered by the water. 
  • If you cannot get far inland then move to the highest floor of a building, including the roof. 
  • Tsunamis can be made up of multiple waves spaced minutes or an hour apart. Do not leave a safe location until the all-clear signal has been announced.  
  • When finding refuge in a building, stay away from windows and glass doors, especially when they are on the side of the incoming water. 
  • When possible, wait for floodwater to recede before venturing out as it can hide many dangers.
  • Keep a watchful eye out for down powerlines as these lines can still have electricity running through them 

Tsunami Survival Kit: Top 15 Items to Include

Because this event can happen quickly with little warning, a kit should either be portable and easily accessible or secured in a location that will keep the contents dry and protected. 

A large pack that can be picked up and slung over the shoulder is ideal when having to flee to safety at a moment’s notice. 

Here are some items that would be helpful to have. 


A minimum of one gallon per person per day for one week should be stored in a location out of the path of floodwaters. In addition to stored water, several methods for filtering, boiling, and purifying water needs to be available. 

Non-perishable food 

Power will most likely be knocked out in the event of a tsunami. For this reason, do not rely on refrigerated food or normal cooking methods. Store canned goods that can be eaten right out of the container or freeze-dried/dehydrated food that requires minimum preparation and cooking. 

Manual can opener 

Since canned goods are one of the best emergency foods to stockpile a manual can opener is a must-have tool. 


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