How to survive a tsunami in your hotel

By | March 11th, 2011

No one expects to get whacked by a tsunami on their vacation. I certainly didn’t when I checked into the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui on Wednesday night.

But on Thursday evening, the sirens started blaring, warning that a killer wave could be headed our way.

I don’t mean to downplay the tragedy of what happened in Japan, where the earthquake struck. What they experienced is so much worse than the inconvenience of having to get out of bed a little early.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims in Japan, of course.

But there’s a right way and a wrong way to get through a tsunami warning in a hotel. I’m a textbook case of the wrong way.

First, I didn’t even know what to listen for. I wish I’d taken a few seconds to educate myself. Here’s what a typical tsunami siren sounds like, in case you were wondering. Ours was just a little different, but similar enough.

I slept through mine. A phone call from a friend alerted me to the evacuation.

Second, take only your valuables and medication. Too many guests ignored repeated requests by the hotel to bring only what’s necessary, and as a result, the lobby was cluttered with people’s luggage. So now, in addition to a tsunami warning, we had a fire hazard.

Also, follow the staff’s directions, when it comes to safe zones. A few guests decided to get a closer look at the water just as the first wave was about to strike.


Security had to run down to the beach to retrieve these Darwin Award finalists.

Of course, where you stay matters. I was lucky enough to have a room at a nice resort in Maui.

Related story:   Behind J.D.'s Web ratings

They do tsunamis in style.

Guests were served steaming hot coffee – the good kind, not the instant stuff they give you in the rooms – fruit and pastries. (Hey, if you’re gonna get swept away by an enormous wave, you might as well do it with a decent cuppa joe.)

The staff was right on top of things. I think they called everyone back to work last night to take care of the displaced guests. We were among the customers who had to be moved; our room was on the ground floor, right within striking distance of the ocean.

My best advice is that if you’re staying anywhere near the ocean, be aware of tsunamis and know which precautions to take, follow all the instructions (even the ones you don’t want to) and consider yourself lucky if you survive.

We got the “all clear” at 6:30 a.m.

  • Still, those in the scientific community have debated whether or not link wheel
    global warming was one of the compelling forces in causing the
    underwater earthquake that eventually made that tsunami. For example,
    in a Cybercast News Service article back in 2005, Sir David King- the
    chief scientific adviser for the government of the United Kingdom-
    indicated the following to BBC radio after the disaster.

  • Tsunamis that strike coastal locations along the coast of South Asia are most always caused by earthquakes. These earthquakes might occur far away or near where you live. According to historical records the Coromandel Coast (Coast of eastern India), the Ganga delta and Sri Lanka have experienced tsunamis with maximum heights of 1.5 – 2.0 meters (1941 – Andamans earthquakes, 1883 – Krakatoa volcanic eruption). The western Indian coast (Konkan, Malabar and Kerala), Gujarat and the southern coast of Pakistan, have in the past experienced major tsunamis. The 1945 earthquake off Pakistan’s Mekran coast caused a 12 meters tsunami. This wave reportedly had a height of 6 meters in Kutchh and 2.5 meters in Mumbai. The 1819 Kutchh earthquake, too caused a tsunami and considerable subsidence in the Kutchh area. 

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