General Question

mazingerz88's avatar

An emergency portable device to save a person from a rushing tsunami-?

Asked by mazingerz88 (18450 points ) March 23rd, 2011

I’ve seen the aerial video from Japan where cars are driving away from the coming tsunami yet another wave is heading in front of them. All those people who got swept away even with ample warning…I can’t help wondering whether there could be a minimally maneuverable portable device for a single person that he or she could deploy in one minute or less to lift his body up like a balloon in order to escape the water and stay afloat until rescue arrives-?

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33 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

Getting air would be a problem, as would being swept out to sea.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@mazingerz88 People stuck in the commuter train that still hasn’t been found would most likely not have benefited from any sort of floatational device. Even if people had some sort of floatational device, they’d need a helmut to protect their head from cars and houses hitting into them.

As @CaptainHarley stated, they’d need air.

Nate Berkus stated that all he thought about while being swept away by the Sri Lanka tsunami was how to get his breath. He was just recently asked about this again, and he said all he focused on was keeping his head up to get air.

zenvelo's avatar

I don’t think the people in Japan had that much warning. The Japanese are well aware of the dangers of tsunami (after all, they invented the word).

I would not want to carry an inflatable vest everywhere I go in case of a sudden tsunami.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

A canoe?

CaptainHarley's avatar

One of the prmary hazards of being caught in a tsunami is being battered to death or outright crushed by debris. Water in massive quantities can be extremely distructive, and has all the inevitability of a freight train. It moves entire houses and other buildings. Being strapped inside a titanium container would be some protection, but nothing would be 100%, or even 90% effective.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Dr_Dredd A few of the people that made it out of the water rush utilized roof pieces as a canoe. When they described it, it reminded me of Katrina on steroids.

JLeslie's avatar

A helmet with some oxygen maybe? The thing to know is if you are near shore and notice the ocean drawback exposing the ocean floor father out that typical, then that means the next thing to happen is a giant wave coming into land. If you ever witness a drawback run inland and up. Obviously earthquakes are also a warning that a tsunami might come in.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

The crushing is definitely the most problematic. Any kind of boat, raft, or personal protection pod would have to be totally crush-proof. Lifting a person above the fray has it’s problems, too, because what comes up, must come down. How about an underground tsunami shelter, much like the bomb shelters of the 50’s.

jaytkay's avatar

I think @mazingerz88 is describing a balloon to take you aloft, avoiding both drowning and debris.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt I find the shelter idea appealing if it could be engineered in such a way that it would also withstand aftershocks after the first earthquake hits and would have tough to crack independent air supply. The reason I thought of a personal air balloon device or probably a sort of a bigger balloon that could accommodate more than one person is that it solves the problem of drowning or being hit by debris or being swept in the ocean.

mazingerz88's avatar

@jaytkay hi I did not see your post before I posted my reply to @Skaggfacemutt but thanks for picking up on what I meant….

SpatzieLover's avatar

@mazingerz88 I still don’t see that as feasible. How would the person(s) control not floating out to sea? How would they wear it/keep it daily?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Hot air balloons take hours to fill ( except in Washington, DC, where there’s enough hot air for an entire armada of hot air balloons )! : )

cazzie's avatar

It wasn’t ample warning. Not at all. And they were driving on roads that lead to destinations, not to simply ‘higher ground’. If you knew your ‘higher ground’ location and had a dirt bike that could go off road… that would be your escape route. There was a teacher who saved his class from the tsunami. Look at what he managed to do with thinking quickly in 15 minutes that the rest of his school didn’t. TIME is of the essence.

mazingerz88's avatar

@SpatzieLover if I may, think of it as putting on a body strap, flicking an air canister switch that inflates a balloon just big enough to lift you afloat in the air. If there is a maneuvering device so much the better.

@CaptainHarley dc is also overflowing with BS that it’s just a matter of time before a tsunami of more bs arrive in a massive wave…

SpatzieLover's avatar

@mazingerz88 I think it would just be wiser to teach all people living on a coastal area a poem or song about how they must quickly reach higher ground.

I cannot find this on the Net right now, but I know that no one was lost from a small island near the Indonesian tsunami due to their people learning a song/poem for generations——it told about when the sea bubbles (that is all I recall)...this method costs nothing and saves lives.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@mazingerz88 Your balloon idea sounds a bit like a jet pack, not that that’s a bad thing. I just think we should take the device one more step and lose the balloon. Something like a scaled-down ultralight, maybe.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@mazingerz88 I still can’t find the name of that particular island or the song/poem it’s like learning a Mother Goose poem about disaster

Anyway, here is the best advice I found online bout how to learn from past tsunamis about surviving

EDIT: Here is the info I was searching for on Semilieu Island and here is an educational game that can be implemented in school systems

mazingerz88's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt is that the ultralight with propellers that needs some bit of ground to take off-? I was thinking balloon so old people may cope better…

mazingerz88's avatar

@SpatzieLover clicked on the link you gave and it was very interesting how stories of old and simple information learned in a modern school saved many lives….

SpatzieLover's avatar

@mazingerz88 I know it was an ABC news story after the 2004 Tsunami…I can’t find their story, but I did find this one on Youtube regarding this on Semilieu passing of generational knowledge to their children

Again, huge damage, but only 7 killed.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@mazingerz88 Okay, forget the ultralight and lets go back to the jet pack idea. It’s about time we invented them, anyway, since we have been seeing them on bad sci-fi movies for decades.

Or lets explore the balloon idea some more. Think of an air bag like we have in cars. Push a button and “fwooop!”, it inflates instantly.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt yes you got it-! Those people in the cars would have a chance if all they need to do is push a button and their seat gets pulled out by a quick inflating balloon…nice one-!

mrrich724's avatar

This might sound dumb. But living in a penthouse in LA, I always thought that I should take gliding lessons. That way if a major disaster ever struck I could jump off the roof with my glider and find the calmest place to land.

I know, it sounds stupid, but it’s what I thought when I lived there.

mazingerz88's avatar

@mrrich724 it would not sound stupid after you land safe saving your life…

mattbrowne's avatar

Solid multi-storey buildings based using steel girders offered the best way to escape the tsunami. Because of this there are so many good videos about the event. The wave only carried away simple houses. Many people had 20 minutes of warning time.

mazingerz88's avatar

@mattbrowne agree…I noticed that they did hold against the tsunami. By chance, the rooftops i saw did not have people but I’m sure lots of them went to rooftops. There could be some who ran for higher ground but did not make it judging from the thousands who are missing.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Okay, how about a multi-story, steel girder tsunami shelter, packed with emergency supplies, and a helecopter landing pad on the roof.

mazingerz88's avatar

@mazingerz88 yes good one…the structures must be built in strategic locations accessible to all especially old people. The buildings in non emergency times should be used for business or government functions…

mattbrowne's avatar

@mazingerz88 – Yes, and then some were saved by helicopters from their rooftops. Some of the multi-storey buildings had balconies and people could watch how the strong wave keep pushing boats, cars and light houses inland. A tsunami is like a fully-loaded freight train approaching the coast at 500 mph. Slowing it down takes a long time.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt – Yes, for areas where reaching hills would take too much time that’s the way to go. Otherwise so-called tsunami evacuation towers can help too:

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/39493116

mazingerz88's avatar

@mattbrowne I guess they did not have this would be life saving towers where it happened. Sad.

mattbrowne's avatar

Japan has invested more than any other country in structures such as evacuation towers, flood-gates on rivers, and sea-walls. But not everywhere. See

http://www.kplu.org/post/japan’s-quake-tsunami-and-what-it-teaches-northwest

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