Tsunami warning signs—educational, annoying or ignored?

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Antonia L. Rosati, Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, CA

Handout (147.4 kB)

In the last 200 years, the Los Angeles area has been effected by 14 tsunamis of over 3 feet high with six of those events being destructive. Los Angeles County recently installed tsunami danger zone signs at the beaches in Marina del Rey, Venice, Santa Monica and Malibu. ”Eventually, all coastal communities in California will have tsunami warning signs," Troy Nicolini of the National Weather Service told the Redwood Times. Local newspapers have reported many controversial statements about these signs - such as "it scared my kids" and "the signs may lower property values."

In an exploratory survey administered in person at various beach locations, I investigated the effectiveness of the visual communication and educational value of these signs. I hypothosized that many of the survey takers would be uneffected by the signs, be unaware of the signs and/or may not even know the causes or how to detect a tsunami.