Huntington Beach safety officials demonstrated to residents Thursday morning that getting out of a tsunami hazard zone can be as easy as heading to a local park.
In conjunction with National Tsunami Preparedness week, the city organized its first tsunami walk and fair to educate the public about being prepared.
About 50 residents met at Harbour View Park, which is in a tsunami inundation zone, and took a 1-mile stroll to the safe area at Wieder Park.
Brevyn Mettler, Huntington Beach's emergency services coordinator, told attendees that just as Californians prepare for earthquakes, they must also be ready for tsunamis.
"We hope to get everybody to learn, walk around and figure out what they're going to do if a tsunami comes," he said.
In most cases, the city will have about three to four hours to prepare and evacuate people, Mettler said. The safety official said he wants to encourage people to be proactive and heed the warnings.
"People are hesitant to evacuate," he said. "We see that with mudslides and fires, but three hours is plenty of time to evacuate."
Safety officials handed out maps of the city illustrating the danger zones — Huntington Harbour, the Bolsa Chica wetlands and mesa, downtown Huntington Beach and the southeast corner of the city — and the safety areas.
Fire Capt. Bob Culhane said many residents in a tsunami inundation zone cannot simply walk to a safe area, and so it is important for them to know the evacuation routes.
"We want residents to get the map and figure out their best way," Mettler said. "It's about figuring out what's plan A, plan B and plan C."
According to city officials, people living in the Bolsa Chica area can go to Gibbs or West Central parks; in downtown, they can go to Farquhar and Lake parks; and in southeast Huntington, they should go to Drew, Hawes or Moffett parks.
Besides knowing which escape route to take, residents should keep and maintain an emergency grab-and-go bag filled with food, medication and important documents, like insurance forms, the safety officials advised.
Huntington Harbour resident George Anderson said he has done some tsunami preparation, such as stocking up on extra supplies and water, and also considered installing a solar panel on his roof to produce electricity.
"I figured that if there's going to be a tsunami, the electricity is going to be out," he said.
Anderson, 70, and his wife live on the third floor of a condominium complex in Huntington Harbour and he said he isn't too concerned about a tsunami.
"If it's just going to flood the streets, it might be better off staying in place," he said. "If they think it's going to be a 30-footer coming, we better get ... out of there."