On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the country of Japan. This earthquake then caused a tsunami to strike the nation. While these two events caused severe damage, it could have been worse. Pictures from the earthquake in Haiti appeared worse due to the lack of protections put in place. Building codes and early warning systems case save lives but they do come at a cost which is why poorer nations don't have them.
Japan has a system in place that can sense the initial waves of an earthquake and alert people to the event. It acts like a weather radio but for seismic activity. If you are too close to the epicenter then you may not have time to be warned.
The following video shows the actual earthquake and the person being alerted prior to the shaking.
It was uploaded by youtube.com user IRBMW but they may not be the original poster.