How to prepare for a tsunami, including maps of LA tsunami evacuation routes

Los Angeles, Calif.
Los Angeles, Calif. KPCC

Although rare in Southern California, tsunamis can be extremely deadly. All low-lying coastal areas, including the Los Angeles Harbor, Venice and West Los Angeles beaches, are vulnerable. Here are some steps you can take to prepare.

Be informed

Learn the natural warning signs of a tsunami: an earthquake, water receding or surging out to sea, water surging inland and a loud roaring sound coming from the ocean.

  • Prepare "Go-Kits" for your home, automobile and work. Click here to find out what you should have in a "Go-Kit."
  • If you live or work in the Tsunami Evacuation Area, Los Angeles strongly urges you to purchase a National Oce­anic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio with an alert feature and Specific Area Message Encoding to keep you informed of Tsunami Watches and Warnings.
  • Check the tsunami evacuation maps below or at the City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department to see if you live, work or attend school in the Tsunami Evacuation Area. Plan an evacuation route from your home, school, workplace or any other place you frequently visit that is at risk for a tsunami.

When you should evacuate

In the event of a tsunami, Tsunami Watches and Warnings will be issued by NOAA. Radio and TV stations will carry official shoreline evacuation instructions through the Emergency Alert System. A local tsunami may not allow sufficient time to issue a warning. Therefore, swift action is necessary.

  • When a Tsunami Warning is issued, or if you feel a strong earthquake at or near the beach or harbor, move away from low-lying coastal areas.
  • Evacuate immediately if you are within the Tsunami Evacuation Area on the Tsunami Evacuation Map. Follow evacuation routes and instructions to a safer location.
  • If time permits, Los Angeles city officials may order an evacuation. If an evacuation is ordered and time permits, law enforcement officials will notify the public to evacuate the Tsunami Evacuation Area. However, it is best to evacuate immediately after the Tsunami Warning is issued since traffic jams may occur.

If children are in school:

  • Los Angeles Unified School District schools within the Tsunami Evacuation Area will activate their existing Safe School Plans when a Tsunami Warning is issued.
  • If an evacuation is ordered and time permits, the schools inside the Tsunami Evacuation Area will be evacuated to another LAUSD school outside the evacuation area.
  • Following the evacuation, you will be notified when and where to pick up your children.

Where you should evacuate to

Follow evacuation instructions. As you evacuate, listen to your car radio or check the Emergency Management Department's Twitter for additional information and updates. Do not call 911. Be sure to take your "Go-Kit."

  • Move inland to higher ground. Move out of and away from the Tsunami Evacuation Area as quickly as possible. Evacuation routes are shown in red on the Tsunami Evacuation Map.
  • If you are on the beach and unable to get to high ground, go inland as far as you can.
  • If you are unable to get far enough inland, try to find refuge above the third floor in a high-rise steel-reinforced building.
  • If you're in a boat in shallow waters or harbors, move to deep water (600 feet or more) if there is enough time and weather conditions are suitable.
  • Do not return home until authorities say it is safe to do so.

Interactive tsunami evacuation maps

Below are maps of the three coastal areas – West Los Angeles, Los Angeles Harbor and Venice – that are most vulnerable to tsunamis.

West Los Angeles

View West Los Angeles evacuation map in a larger map

Los Angeles Harbor

View Harbor Area evacuation map in a larger map


View Venice Evacuation map in a larger map

What you should have in a "Go-Kit" in case of an evacuation

At the least, include three days worth of:

  • Food and water
  • Medications and copies of prescriptions
  • Change of clothes and comfortable shoes
  • Personal hygiene and first aid supplies
  • Special items such as diapers, formula or special food requirements
  • Pet carrier, leash and pet food
  • Copies of your important documents

Keep the items that you would most likely need for evacuation in a backpack, duffel bag or wheeled cooler in an easily accessible location.

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