How to Prepare for an EARTHQUAKE!

Monster Earthquake still stalks Vancouver

…When the big one strikes it will measure in the 9.0 range.

– Brent Ward, earth scientist at Simon Fraser University

On Saturday, 27 Oct, around 8 in the evening, a 7.7 earthquake struck the Haida Gwaii area in BC, followed by a small tsunami.

Sooner or later, Vancouver will get an earthquake. The question is, will you be prepared?

My 1st experience with earthquakes

13 years ago, on 21 Sept 1999, I experienced the 921 earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3-7.6 while living abroad in Taiwan. Luckily, I was in Taipei at the time when the earthquake struck the centre of Taiwan. It was very early in the morning (1:47AM) and I’d already been asleep for at least 4-5 hours when suddenly, I was jolted awake by the shaking of my bed and the loud clamour in my room from all the ornaments hung around my desk. Can you imagine how terrifying it was? Not only was everything pitch black, but this wasn’t just an earthquake that swayed back and forth. It was going up and down, left and right.

Naturally, I quickly called for my parents and my Dad came to the rescue and led me and my brother from our rooms. What we really should have done was go under a sturdy table, which was in our living room, a tad farther from our bedrooms. Yet we chose instead to huddle in one bed and pray (no, we’re not idiots. We don’t fear death). We tried to sleep that night but the thing about earthquakes is that they’re always followed by aftershocks. You never know when or how great or weak the aftershocks are.

Luckily – and very obviously – we had no school the following day but we certainly spent the day ducking under tables every time we felt a tremor. My Mum was very smart and it’s thanks to her that we were well-prepared for any natural disaster (prior to the earthquake, I’d only experienced typhoons). We had non-perishable food, water [jug], and even sweets. Of course, we knew exactly where our torch (flashlight for the rest of you) and emergency kit (First Aid) were (we made sure, for the time being, we had it close to us).

Back at school 2 days after the big quake, we still experienced after shocks (which, I hate to add, we sometimes sat and ‘enjoyed’ and sometimes went under our desks for our ‘safety’) every now and then.

Since then, I realised that you have to always be prepared.

Emergency Kit Recommendation

The following is my recommendation though you can also check out my comprehensive blog post (tips taken from the London Drugs blog post with some minor changes and comments by me). You can also check out Miss 604’s 72-Hour Emergency Preparedness Kit blog post.

In your kitchen

  • WATER – This is when those bottled waters will come in handy. Don’t rely on tap water because they can become polluted. Make sure you have a jug or more with water for at least 72 hours (3 days). You’ll need at least 2L per person per day.
  • NON-PERISHABLE FOOD – This includes dried fruit, trail mix, beef jerky, granola bars & the like, canned food, etc. Be sure to check the expiry date! Remember, your refrigerator and microwave won’t work when the electricity’s out!
  • Can opener – you’ll need something to open your canned food!

In your room

Assuming this is where you will most likely be at home!

  • Running shoes or other comfortable walking shoes – at least have slippers. Don’t go around barefoot! Once it’s safer, you might be able to access your wellies or something sturdier, assuming it’s not covered under rubble!
  • Blanket – When you wake up, you may as well wrap the blankey around you!
  • Candle – It will be dark for a while…

Put these in an ’emergency’ rucksack somewhere you can access easily. Don’t hide it in your basement! I’ll put mine under my desk so that all I have to do is duck under the desk!

  • Water bottle with water
  • Granola bars, protein bars, etc.
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Hard Candy/Chocolate/Gum
  • warm Gloves
  • Hat
  • some Clothing – layer up in case it gets chilly!
  • 60ml Antibacterial Wash – or hand sanitiser?
  • First Aid: disposable latex gloves; bandages (variety of sizes); large sterile dressings; first aid tape; scissors; mask with 1-way valve; aspirin
  • Prescription Medications – if you need it
  • City Map and/or compass – this is very useful if you have no sense of direction like me ANd when your smartphone is of no use.
  • Torch/Flashlight – my keys, Swiss army knife, whistle, and mini-flashlight are all on one keychain!
  • Whistle
  • Swiss army knife
  • Kleenex pack(s)
  • Lighter/matches
  • Money (cash) – recommended to have at least $20.00 [in change]
  • Cup – just in case you need it. I’ve got one that can be attached to a bag!
  • Sanitary napkins – Women are always prepared anyways! 😛
  • AM/FM radio – get your updates!
  • Moist towelettes – save your water for drinking!
  • Important phone numbers & addresses, plus photos of loved ones – For contacting them later. Your smartphone will only last so long and you might not be able to charge for a while. I have an external battery for my phone but stick to the old-fashioned way just in case!
  • Rubbish bags
  • Pen/Pencil & Paper
  • Mirror
  • Contact Lens – if you need it. I prefer to wear my glasses in these situations. Keep your hands clean!
  • Cell phone / smartphone – You will have your phone by you already, I’m certain. Here are 9 ways you can make the cell phone last longer. I’d recommend getting an external or extra battery for your phone too and keep it handy.

Hope this helps! Be sure to attend these Earthquake Preparedness Classes! There are even classes on what to do if you live in an apartment, as well as how to care for yourself and your pet(s)!

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