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)!

Happy Double Ten Day: Taiwan’s ‘Birthday’

Today is Double Ten Day or “Taiwan’s birthday”.

Taiwan, or the Republic of China, turned 101 this year. As usual, the day was marked with festivities and fireworks. At least that is what I’ve read on the news. In the 6 years of living there during my childhood as an expat, I’d always assumed that Double Ten Day was Taiwan’s birthday. At the same time, I was often – no, I still am – very confused about the whole thing.

This is what I know, or think I know. If I’m wrong, you know I’ve been mis-educated or I’m super confused:

  • Double Ten Day marks the anniversary of the Wuchang Uprising in China in the early 1900s, I think 1911 or 1912, and the fall of the Qing Dynasty. But then came the Communist Party that forced the Nationalist Party to run away and seek refuge in Taiwan. Taiwan became the Republic of China. *Please note that China is the People’s Republic of China!*
  • Taiwan uses the ROC flag (with the white sun against the blue patch in the corner of the red flag), as well as the ROC anthem. Those who left China before 1949 or just after remember the ROC anthem (just as many Germans who’ve settled in North America remember “Deutschland Ueber Alles“).
  • Taiwan was once called Formosa or Ilha Formosa, by the Portuguese explorers in the 1500s, which means ‘beautiful island’.
  • Some of the people from Taiwan have Chinese roots; others have aboriginal roots and still others have a mixture of some sort.

That’s pretty much it. 😐

I’m not sure whether or not Taiwan is truly independent right now but I do hope it will be allowed to be its own country one day, to be recognised not as Chinese Taipei as it is in the Olympics and Paralympics, but as Taiwan.

Flag of the Republic of China

Flag of the Republic of China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

15 years since Hong Kong was returned to China

My family and I moved to Hong Kong in 1992 (work opportunities I think?). We lived in a city full of expats, mostly from the UK, and Hong Kong locals. During the 4 years I’d lived there, I never had to learn Cantonese because all the schools I’d attended were taught by teachers from the UK (mostly from England) and just about everything was in English. Because I was so young, I can’t remember what life was really like except for the fact that there was a major British influence – which became more apparent to me when I returned to HK for a visit in 2003 and discovered how Chinese it had become.

We left at the end of 1996 and the next thing you know, I woke up in a new country in 1997. I attended my last British primary school then finished classes at the end of June. On the eve of June 30 (I know this date now, mind you!), I sat in front of the telly with my family, watching Hong Kong’s ‘handover’ to China. I remember seeing Prince Charles get off the plane (I was sad not to see ‘Princess Diana’ – as I’d called the late Princess of Wales then and will use for this post – but I think I knew they were divorced already), make a speech (seemed solemn to little me) and next thing you know, there was a hoard of Chinese army men marching from who-knows-where. That scene, to me, was one of the saddest things for me to see. Just like that, GB had lost a colony and its influences on a much beloved (for its expat inhabitants) international city.

Flag of Hong Kong 1959

By Designed byEnglish: College of Arms中文: 英國紋章院 ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Not that 1997 was an annus horribilis for me, but there were definitely 2 events that occurred that year that marked the ‘end’ of something. The first, I’ve already mentioned, the second was the death of Princess Diana.

You have to understand that the late Princess of Wales was my childhood role model. I’d always wanted to meet her and I’d hoped she would visit my school(s) in HK. Sadly, my dreams of meeting her were dashed to the floor when I heard about the car crash in August 1997. I couldn’t have been more devastated. I was even about to visit London that year or the following year – which didn’t happen until 2000.
However, I do remember meeting one staff member at our school named Ms Nurse (or perhaps she was the school nurse?). She was very sweet and caring and she even looked like Princess Diana! Of course, I was absolutely elated and I even asked her if she knew who Princess Diana was. I was surprised that she did not (hmmm….); nevertheless, to a certain extent, meeting Ms Nurse was like meeting Princess Diana. 🙂

I started a new international school, an American one, in the autumn of 1997, which practically purged much of the British influence I’d grown up with. It was the end of the “British era” on me and the start of the “Americana” (which is another story and that concludes my post for the day!).