About the Study Guide

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Washington State is on the Pacific “rim of fire,” which is the main generator of seismic events that can create tsunamis.

Tsunamis can cause rapid changes in the water, including water levels and unpredictable currents, especially in harbors and entrance channels.

  • It is important for boaters in coastal areas, including the Puget Sound, to know what to do if they are on their boat when a tsunami strikes.
  • Vessel operators should plan evacuation procedures for moving docked or moored vessels and for removing belongings from vessels, including insurance and ownership papers.
  • In the event of a tsunami warning, boaters should consider the following actions.
    • If in deep water (600 feet or greater), stay at sea.
    • If time allows, move trailered vessels to an area outside of the evacuation zone.
    • If a vessel is in shallow water or a harbor and if time and weather conditions allow it, move the vessel to deep water (at least 600 to 1,200 feet deep).
    • Once a vessel is taken out to sea, it should not return until an “All Clear” has been issued by the Civil Defense Agency.
    • VHF-FM Channel 22 should be monitored for up-to-date information and “All Clear” notifications.
    • Vessel operators in the Puget Sound or the Lower Columbia River should anticipate heavy commercial traffic heading seaward.
    • If time does not allow moving a docked or moored vessel to deeper water, the best strategy is to leave the vessel and follow local tsunami evacuation route procedures.

Plan Your Trip

Online weather and river information for Washington boaters is available from the National Weather Service at:

Wear Your Life Jacket all the time—it's easy, and it's your last line of defense. Also, wearing a life jacket provides some insulation if you fall into cold water.

The U.S. Power Squadron offers on-the-water boating classes to help you improve your skills as an operator.