Closing the Gender and Age Gap in Tsunami Survival

Catastrophes from tsunamis are not as haphazard as some people think. Women, children and elders in developing countries, for example, perish or suffer trauma disproportionately more than others. Faced with only minutes to evacuate coastal areas, they are least likely to have a nearby place of refuge, a means to get there, or enough time to reach high ground. This can change. Why the disparity in survival? Studies of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami identified factors unique to these groups. When the tsunami struck, women spent time collecting or rescuing children and elders. Cultural clothing such as long skirts impeded many. Even on their own, women, children and elders were least able to out