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Animated Film Teaches Kids About Tsunamis

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Is a tsunami possible for San Diego County? Historically speaking, tsunamis are rare in the county, but offshore faults and offshore landslides are capable of generating locally-damaging tsunamis.

For this reason, it is important that locals and tourists know how to recognize a tsunami and can respond appropriately. What better place to start that lesson than in our schools?

Students at Del Mar Heights Elementary School on Thursday watched the premiere of “Tsunamis: Know What to Do,” an innovative, educational six-minute animated short film produced by the County Office of Emergency Services (OES). The County received a $30,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) to produce the video. OES staff developed the storyline and music and character animation was created by Absolute Zero, an Encinitas-based company.

“The best part about this video is that it can be used nationwide to teach our children about how to recognize a tsunami. This information is important even to children in our land-locked states because they might vacation or visit beaches in the United States or abroad. The same safety principles would apply,” said Ron Lane, Director of the County Office of Emergency Services.

“NOAA is very pleased to have partnered in the making of this fun and educational video,” said Jim Purpura, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office in San Diego. “The potentially life-saving information in the tsunami video will teach children about how to recognize a tsunami and instill in them the urgency of moving to higher ground.”

An amazing illustration of tsunami education was demonstrated by a 10-year-old British girl, Tilly Smith, who was vacationing with her family in Thailand in 2004 and recognized the ocean’s warning signs from a geography lesson. She was able to warn her family and at least 100 people on the beach to evacuate before three deadly tsunami waves came ashore.

Watch the film and get preparedness information at

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