Public Safety

Student Broadcast Teaches Tsunami Awareness

The anchorman and anchorwoman were just 12 and 10 years old. 

But kids at Carmel Del Mar Elementary in Carmel Valley said a Wednesday student newscast on Tsunami awareness taught them how to be safe if a tsunami ever hits San Diego County’s shores.

The weekly newscast is produced and hosted by fourth, fifth and sixth grade students at the school. This week, the animated short, Tsunamis: Know What to Do, produced by the County’s Office of Emergency Services, was the show’s highlight.

 “I think it was really informational, fifth-grader Tuy said after viewing the newscast with his class over the school’s closed circuit channel. “It taught you what to do a tsunami; you have to run inland.”

Tuy’s classmates in  teacher Becky Zebold’s room giggled as they watched the engaging  cartoon, which features music, humor, and an a patient crab teacher, “Mr. King,” leading a tsunami lesson in his beach classroom.

Just doors away in room 207, technology teacher Janet Wolfertz’s students gathered around a monitor to view the short film themselves. They had just introduced the video on camera with the casual banter of real news anchors.

“Hey Taichi, is a tsunami really possible in San Diego?” 10-year-old Oren asked her co-host.

The sixth grader and student body president told her a tsunami here is unlikely, but possible.

“For this reason it is important we be able to know how to recognize a tsunami and be able to know how to react quickly and appropriately,” Taichi said. He read smoothly from the “teleprompter” – a large printout of the script that music teacher Cinda Peek held aloft just beneath the student-run camera.

Taichi got it right. San Diego County doesn’t have the same kind of undersea faults that have caused massive tsunamis in other parts of the world, including Japan. But experts say that a tsunami here could bring waves up to 20 feet high or a surge of floodwater.

With so many beachgoers and coastal communities in San Diego County, even a moderate tsunami could put a large population in danger.

“We want you to be prepared, not scared,” Oren told her audience before the animation rolled.  

Wolfertz said the Know What to Do cartoon made perfect material for the student newscast.

“We live in a coastal community, and what a great way to spread the information,” Wolfertz said. “It’s a great medium for my students.”

The lesson came as part of Tsunami Awareness Week, which is March 24-31. The Office of Emergency Services encouraged schools across the region to show the video this week.

The video teaches students that an earthquake far or near might cause a tsunami. A local earthquake, a quickly receding tide at the beach or an emergency notification that a tsunami will arrive would mean people at the coast should move to higher ground, students learned.

To view the video or for more information on emergency preparedness, please