Sea Grant Extension teaches coastal employees to educate customers about tsunami preparedness

Scientists predict there is about a 37 percent chance that an earthquake of at least 8.0 magnitude will strike off the Pacific Northwest coast in the next 50 years. The Oregon State University Extension Service is playing a critical role in helping Oregon's people and communities prepare for this predicted natural disaster. If the epicenter is just off offshore, the quake will trigger a tsunami that will inundate Oregon’s coastal communities within minutes. 

As tourism grows along Oregon’s coast, employees at places such as hotels, restaurants and visitor centers can play a key role in educating customers about what to do if an earthquake and tsunami occur. In response, Oregon Sea Grant Extension staff developed a curriculum on tsunamis that was added to a customer service training program for employees of coastal businesses. The project developed learning objectives, taught employees how to use a tsunami inundation zone app on their smartphones, and provided messaging for instructing customers on where to evacuate. 

The tsunami education module was delivered to 45 frontline employees and managers at seven workshops on the Oregon coast in 2019. Participants included visitor center staff and volunteers, lodging business managers, public facility staff and workforce education staff.

As a result, some coastal library staff became aware that their facility was not in a tsunami inundation zone, so they prepared to serve as an emergency public shelter. A coastal representative of WorkSource Lane, an organization that seeks to improve the workforce in Lane County, requested more trainings in customer service and tsunami response. Based on evaluations, future customer service programs are planned and will continue to include tsunami education. 

Related stories

Extension educates Oregonians to prepare for Cascadia Earthquake

Scientists predict there is about a 37 percent chance that an earthquake of at least 8.0 magnitude will strike off the Pacific Northwest coast in the next 50 years. When it occurs, the historic temblor will cause widespread ...

Sea Grant Extension supports creation of award-winning ocean acidification curriculum

Ocean acidification is the change in ocean chemistry due to increasing concentrations of human-created carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. One result of an increase in carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean is carbonate, used for ...

Sea Grant Extension documents whale movements to mitigate entanglements

Entanglements of blue, humpback and gray whales in fixed fishing gear along the U.S. West Coast have been on the rise for the past five years, often exceeding biologically sustainable levels under the Endangered Species Act and...