The DomiDocs Guide to Tsunami Preparedness

“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential” – Winston Churchill

What is a tsunami?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers this definition:

Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea. Out in the depths of the ocean, tsunami waves do not dramatically increase in height. But as the waves travel inland, they build up to higher and higher heights as the depth of the ocean decreases. The speed of tsunami waves depends on ocean depth rather than the distance from the source of the wave. Tsunami waves may travel as fast as jet planes over deep waters, only slowing down when reaching shallow waters. While tsunamis are often referred to as tidal waves, this name is discouraged by oceanographers because tides have little to do with these giant waves.”


Tsunami stats. states: that since 1737, 74 tsunamis have killed 548 people across America, noting the largest tsunami wave recorded hit a height of 1,720 feet back in 1958. These somewhat silent and deadly killers are relatively unexpected, so many residents don’t even bother to take any protective measures, but any type of flood wave, even on a small scale, can cause financial loss and damage. 


The National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP) has identified the following areas at high to very high risk:

  • West Coast: Washington, Oregon, California
  • Alaska
  • Alaska Arctic Coast
  • Hawaii
  • American Samoa
  • Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands

NTHMP further identified the Atlantic and Gulf coasts as being at low to very low risk for tsunamis. Tsunami waves generally travel between 20–30 miles per hour, with waves ranging from 10–100 feet high.


Tsunami categories defined.

The North-Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean, and connected seas Tsunami Information Center (NEAMTIC) categorizes tsunamis according to the New Tsunami Intensity Scale as follows:

Tsunami seismic intensity scale Intensity Observances Likely Damages
Not felt by people
Not felt even under the most favorable circumstance.
No effects; no damages.
Scarcely felt
Felt by few people on board small vessels; not observed along the coast.
No effects; no damages.
Felt by most people on board small vessels. Observed by a few people on the coast.
No effects; no damages.
Largely observed
Felt by all on board in small vessels and by a few people on board in large vessels. Observed by most people on the coast.
Few small vessels move slightly onshore; no damage.
Felt by all on board large vessels and observed by all on the coast. Few people are frightened and run to higher ground.
Many small vessels move strongly onshore, and few of them crash each other or overturn. Traces of sand layer are left behind in grounds under favorable conditions. Limited flooding of cultivated land and outdoor facilities of near-shore structures.
Slightly damaging
Many people are frightened and run to higher ground.
Most small vessels move violently onshore, crash strongly into each other, or overturn. Damage and flooding in a few wooden structures. Most masonry buildings withstand.
Most people are frightened and try to run to higher ground.
Many small vessels are damaged. Few large vessels oscillate violently. Objects of variable size and stability overturn and drift. Sand layer and accumulations of pebbles are left behind. Few aquaculture rafts wash away. Many wooden structures are damaged, and few are demolished or washed away. Damage of Grade 1 and flooding in a few masonry buildings.
Heavily damaging
All people escape to higher ground, and a few have washed away.
Most of the small vessels are damaged, and many are washed away. Few large vessels are moved ashore or crashed into each other. Big objects are drifted away. Erosion and littering on the beach. Extensive flooding. Slight damage in tsunami control forest, stop drifts. Many aquaculture rafts washed away, few partially damaged. Most wooden structures are washed away or demolished. Damage of grade 2 in a few masonry buildings. Most RC buildings sustain damage, in a few damage of grade 1 and flooding is observed.
Many people have washed away.
Most small vessels are destroyed or washed away. Many large vessels are moved violently ashore, few are destroyed. Extensive erosion and littering of the beach. Local ground subsidence. Partial destruction in tsunami control forest, stop drifts. Most aquaculture rafts washed away, many partially damaged. Damage of grade 3 in many masonry buildings, few RC buildings suffer damage grade 2.
Very destructive
General panic. Most people are washed away.
Most large vessels are moved violently ashore, and many are destroyed or collided with buildings. Small boulders from the sea bottom are moved inland. Cars overturned and drifted. Oil spills, and fires may start. Extensive ground subsidence. Damage of grade 4 in many masonry buildings, few RC buildings suffer damage grade 3. Artificial embankments collapse and port water breaks are damaged.
General panic. Most people are washed away.
Lifelines interrupted. Extensive fires. Water backwash drifts cars and other objects into the sea. Big boulders from the sea bottom are moved inland. Damage of grade 5 in many masonry buildings. Few RC buildings suffer damage grade 4, many suffer damage grade 3.
Completely Devastating
General panic. Most people are washed away.
Practically all masonry buildings are demolished. Most RC buildings suffer at least grade 3 damage.

NEAMTIC goes on to explain that while there is no official classification for damage to buildings caused by tsunamis, a gross classification is used in association with the tsunami intensity scale:

  • Grade 1: Slight damage 

  • Grade 2: Moderate damage 

  • Grade 3: Heavy damage 

  • Grade 4: Destruction 

  • Grade 5: Total damage 


Is there a tsunami season in America?

According to, “There is no season for tsunamis. A tsunami can happen any time, any season, and during any weather.”


How DomiDocs can help you navigate through a storm.

The keys to helping you weather any natural disaster are always going to be the same: knowledge and organization. It basically comes down to homeowner responsibility and doing your due diligence to protect both your family and your home before a disaster strikes. Use the secure, award-winning DomiDocs homeowner platform to:

  • upload a detailed home inventory list itemizing your home’s contents including receipts, photos, and videos of your home’s current condition

  • store and catalog your proprietary household paperwork using the Insurance Document Bundle feature where your insurance policies are listed to show the company, coverage, cost, and start- and end-date of each, displayed with a calendar timeline for quick reference when needed. Besides for your own use, you can share with your insurance agent at the touch of a button if need to file an insurance claim

  • work your way through our comprehensive DomiDocs New Homeowner Guide offering best use instructions to help prevent homeowner claims


The basics of tsunami preparedness., the American Red Cross, and localized organizations such as the Office of Emergency Services, University of California Santa Cruz recommends the following:

Before a tsunami, take the time to:
Determine your personal tsunami risk.
Do you know if you live in a tsunami-prone zone? Government websites like FEMA offer a National Risk Index for Natural Hazards so you can easily determine your personal risk.
Know the signs of a tsunami.

Signs of a tsunami include unusual ocean behavior such as a sudden rise or draining of ocean waters; a loud roar from the ocean; or an earthquake.

Know the difference between a tsunami watch and a warning.

A Tsunami WATCH means a tsunami has not yet been verified but could exist and may be as little as an hour away

A Tsunami WARNING means a tsunami may have been generated and could be close to your area.

Develop an evacuation plan.

Every member of your family needs to know what your homeowner evacuation plan is. Where will you go? How will you get there? What optional evacuation routes will you have if your initial choice is blocked? Where will you stay? Knowing these basics in advance can help stem panic during an actual natural disaster situation. Have a to-go bag in place with all the supplies you’ll need, including items for your pets. If you’ll need assistance in traveling, you’ll need to confirm with someone in advance. And be sure to follow any evacuation orders that have been issued. As a family, discuss how you can help your neighbors during a natural disaster by checking in or helping them evacuate as well.

Assemble disaster supplies for your family members and your pets.

The American Red Cross recommends gathering 2 emergency supply kits:

  1. A Go-Kit: with a 3-day supply of items you can carry with you, including chargers for your devices (cell phone, wheelchair, CPAP, etc.) and backup batteries; as well as non-perishable food, water, and medications. Cash is also important to have on hand as ATMs may not be working/accessible. 
  2. A Stay-at-Home Kit: with a 2-week supply of the above items.

NOAA recommends adding the following to round out your emergency disaster supply kits, where applicable:

  • masks, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer
  • non-prescription medicine such as antacids, anti-diarrhea, and pain relievers
  • contact lens solution/prescription eyeglasses
  • baby bottles, formula, wipes, diapers, and diaper rash cream
  • feminine hygiene supplies
  • sleeping bags/blankets
  • a change of clothing for each family member, including sensible footwear
  • fire extinguisher
  • matches in a fireproof container
  • mess kit with plates, utensils, cups, and paper towels
  • activities for kids like puzzles, games, or books
Review/update your homeowner insurance policy.
It’s estimated that 40% of Americans can’t find an important household document when needed, so the first step is to upload your vital household documents to our user-friendly digital platform, so there’s easy access 24/7/365. Secondly, reassess your homeowner policy to ensure you have the best coverage to fit your needs. Compare the cost and coverage that you have in place, to what else is available from your current insurer and other companies. If there have been any major additions to your home and/or contents in the last year, it’s time to review your homeowner insurance policy to ensure it’ll cover your new additions. Homeowner insurance doesn’t cover flooding, so you’ll need to purchase a separate policy for it; note that there’s a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance takes effect.
Make your home disaster-resistant.

Depending on where you live across America, insurance companies may reward your efforts in making your home disaster-resistant by offering discounted homeowner insurance premiums. Elevating your coastal home can help to reduce damage as the majority of tsunami waves are less than 10 feet high. Consult an engineer as there may be ways to divert water and waves away from your property.

Have supplies on hand to make emergency repairs.
Such supplies can include plastic sheeting, tarps, sandbags, and/or plywood, plus the necessary tools to apply these to your home like a staple gun and/or duct tape.
Complete a written disaster plan.
Now that you’ve got everything in place, there’s no better way to solidify it than by making a written plan, which should include regularly practicing your escape route, and maintaining your disaster prep plan supplies by replacing expired items. Ensure your plan includes a contact list, with at least one contact who lives outside the impacted area; share your disaster plan with family and friends. Register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website so friends and family will know you are okay.
Take the time to emergency life-saving skills.
The American Red Cross recommends that adults and kids around the age of nine learn first aid and CPR skills., the American Red Cross, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following:

When a tsunami is happening:
Get to higher ground as far inland as possible (at least 2 miles away), as quickly as possible. If you’re in a vessel, face the directions of the waves and go out to sea. If you’re in a harbor, go inland. The American Red Cross notes, “If you can see the waves, you are too close for safety.”
If there’s an accompanying earthquake: Drop, Cover, and Hold ON to protect yourself.
If you end up in the water, grab onto something that floats. Don’t wade in floodwater as it can be deeper than you think and may contain contaminants or debris.
Double-check your emergency supplies including bottled water, plus battery-operated flashlights and a radio.
Monitor local news reports and emergency alerts.
Shut off your electricity, gas, and water utilities. If you smell gas, get out quickly and move as far away as possible, while paying attention to any obstructions or possible falling debris, including fallen power lines, trees, or streetlights. Don’t return home until officials say it’s safe to do so.

The Problem with Insurance Companies

When you’re in the midst of a dealing with a natural disaster, there’s no doubt you’ll also be dealing with your insurance company. DomiDocs CEO and Founder, William McKenna, advises to never accept your insurance company’s first settlement offer as chances are it’ll be a low-ball offer they’re just hoping you’ll take without question. Many attorneys agree that the initial offer by an insurance company should immediately be rejected. What should you do? Access your personal profile on the DomiDocs home management platform, and submit your documented receipts, photos, and videos to your insurance adjuster with just one click. Take the time to factor in missed wages, medical bills (current and future), vehicle repairs, and any other losses that occurred before accepting any settlement offers.

DomiDocs has your back! Whether it’s wildfire preparedness, How To File an Insurance Claim, or mental health tips in The DomiDocs Guide: What to Do After a Hurricane Hits, we’re here for every step of your homeowner journey.

Never accept an insurance company’s first settlement offer: McKenna himself was initially offered a $13,500 settlement offer for damages sustained to his home’s roof by a sudden, unexpected microburst. By providing his documentation already stored in the DomiDocs Homeowner Platform, McKenna’s settlement was increased to $201,000, proving true the immeasurable value of DomiDocs.

DomiDocs HomeLock™ can provide you with an extra layer of protection by digitally locking your home against virtually all homeowner fraud, including title & deed theft. Why? Because property fraud is the fastest growing crime in America! Visit HomeLock™ today to watch our introduction video, and when you sign up, you’ll receive your comprehensive 7-year home history report and scan free of charge.