The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, which occurred on March 11, 2011, and was shared with the world in real time via social media, sent a shockwave to all corners of the Earth. For West Coast communities that are at a high risk of losses from tsunami waves generated by the next great Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, the Japan earthquake amplified the message that you can never be prepared enough for a natural disaster.
An interactive, online training created specifically for hospitality industry professionals aims to help coastal businesses and communities become better prepared for a tsunami should one occur on the Oregon coast. Tsunami Safe: Hospitality Begins with Safety is free, available in English and Spanish, and takes less than 30 minutes. It includes answers to frequently asked questions about what causes tsunamis, the different types of tsunamis, how to recognize when a tsunami is coming and what to do.
“We know that most small businesses don’t have the resources to invest in the type of comprehensive planning and emergency response exercising that is needed to prepare for something as big as a Cascadia Subduction Zone tsunami,” says Althea Rizzo, geological hazards coordinator for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.“Our goal with this online training is to provide the minimum amount of basic information that most people living on and visiting the Coast need to prepare for such an event — because any effort toward disaster preparation will help reduce the impact the event will have upon your family, business and community.”
Employees who complete the 30-minute course can print out a PDF of the certificate or email the certificate to themselves or a supervisor. “We designed the Tsunami Safe Certification after the Food Handler Certification,” Rizzo says. “Some people earn the certification on their own as a way to show future employers that they are proactively getting training around this important issue. Others are required by their employer to complete the course as part of an existing safety training or new employee orientation.”
Tsunami Safe: Hospitality Begins with Safety was developed by the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup and funded in part by the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, a program of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, organized under the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It was created for the hospitality industry but it’s open to anyone.
Tsunami Safe: Hospitality Begins with Safety is just one component of a more comprehensive program that aims to help businesses begin tsunami planning, employees, and inform their visitors about tsunamis. Hospitality businesses can request free educational tools such as table tents for guest rooms. They can also share these steps 7 Steps to Be Prepared with their customers and clients prior to their arrival and during their stay. “Raising awareness about tsunami safety will undoubtedly save lives when the Coast experiences its next tsunami,” Rizzo says.