No Time To Run? Tsunami Pod Aims To Save Lives — At A Price

By Sandi Doughton
The Seattle Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This article takes a look at a new high-tech solution: a tsunami survival capsule manufactured by a fledgling company near Seattle. The neon-orange sphere is meant to protect its occupants from drowning or being crushed by debris in an emergency.

OCEAN PARK, Washington

When Jeanne Johnson lived in New Orleans, she figured out how to weather hurricanes.

When the family moved to Kansas City, she taught her kids to take cover from tornadoes.

So when Johnson recent bought a house on Washington state’s Long Beach Peninsula, about 110 miles southwest of Seattle, she set out to improve her odds of surviving a Cascadia megaquake and tsunami.

Running for high ground before the wave hits isn’t an option from her property. Nor are there any tall, sturdy buildings nearby. Instead, Johnson is betting her life on a new, high-tech solution: a tsunami survival capsule manufactured by a fledgling company near Seattle.

The neon-orange sphere is meant to protect its occupants from drowning or being crushed by debris as towering surges batter the coast. It’s made of aircraft-grade aluminum, with a watertight marine door. Tiny porthole windows are equipped with bulletproof glass. There’s a ceramic thermal lining, a GPS beacon and air canisters.

As the company’s first customer, Johnson has been experimenting with the quickest way to climb in, batten the hatch and buckle up for a ride she’s not eager to take.

“It’s going to be terrible,” said the 55-year-old Microsoft employee. “But it’s better than the alternative.”

The pod is the brainchild of aerospace engineer Julian Sharpe, founder of Survival Capsule LLC. He got the idea after the 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami, which swept more than 200,000 people to their deaths. Sharpe and his family were staying at a waterfront hotel in Cannon Beach, Ore., and he wondered how they could get to safety if a similar disaster struck the Pacific Northwest.

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