Want to Survive a Tsunami? You'll Need One of These

A local engineer invents a sphere that can survive a tsunami
survive a tsunami in seattle magazine

Deeply troubled by recent natural disasters in Japan and Indonesia, former Boeing engineer Julian Sharpe saw a need to reimagine tsunami survival. His solution? The Survival Capsule (survival-capsule.com), a brightly colored, buoyant sphere, 4.5 feet in diameter, designed to enclose and protect people in the event of tsunamis—such as the towering wall of water expected to hit Cannon Beach, Oregon, if and when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurs along the Cascadia fault. Built in Mukilteo by Survival Capsule LLC (a subsidiary of Sharpe’s aerospace engineering company, IDEA International), the contraption contains safety seating, GPS, a porthole, oxygen tanks and ventilation, and a host of other features designed to maximize the likelihood of survival. After years of extensive prototyping and testing, three production models of the two-person capsule were shipped to Japan in February, with the ultimate goal of sending more capsule “kits” to be assembled and sold there to help assist with tsunami preparedness. The capsules, which can be tethered to the ground, hold at least a five-day supply of provisions (purchased separately). No, there’s no toilet in the two-person model—just suggested “sanitation bags” containing liquid-absorbing powder—but modern conveniences aren’t likely a priority when your life is on the line. The two-person capsule comes with a price tag of $18,000–$20,000. Expanded models that can seat as many as 10 people are in the works, so you can keep the whole family afloat while you wait out the storm.