Global wisdom for the survival kit–what we collected so far


The global seismic hazard map is made by the Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program.

Taiwan sits on the Pacific tectonic ‘ring of fire’, so earthquakes are nothing new to us. A magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck Taiwan in the midnight on 2018/2/6 and caused four concrete buildings collapsed partially. The death toll is 17.

In the morning on 2/7, we received warm messages from GVers asking about our safety. Connie replied,

Hey all, ça va ça va, Taipei is fine now. But this 6.0-magnitude tremor has caused some buildings to collapse in Hualien (the east coast), leading to casualties, really worried when I was watching the news earlier.
Since 4 Feb there has already had 90 more Earthquakes and the meteorological bureau says that it might have more. It is rather unusual even in seismic zone. We will keep ourselves alert! Thank you guys~

In Taiwan, most of us do not have a survival kit at home, but the frequent after-earthquakes are so scary that survival kit preparation becomes a hot topic. I asked GVers who reside or resided in an earthquake prone country how to prepare for an earthquake.

Bah from Italy shares his wisdom about where to hide and what to pray when earthquakes occur.

Is it possible to have a kit for earthquake other than in the building?
Here in Rome, we had just time to go under tables and pray our flat being at the figth floor.

Tori also shares her experience in Iran. Where she lived in Tehran was labeled as ‘the zone of total destruction’. (I can relate to that. The area I live now has very high tendency for soil liquefaction in an earthquake, which might induce collapse of buildings, so let us hope this does not happen.)

When I lived in Iran, I did have an earthquake kit. Here's what was in it: First, I always kept shoes under the bed in case of an earthquake in the night. Then we kept a bag by the door with a first aid kit and cash. Fire extinguishers are important, because a lot of earthquake damage comes from fires (think broken gas mains…). We kept heavy duty garbage bags around just in case the plumbing was broken (yes, to collect human waste) and lots of water. In Iran, we had 5 gallon drums filled with water. I also kept canned food around. The secret with both the water and the canned food is that you have to keep replacing it. So you might want to either donate the canned food every year or two or eat it yourself. The same with the water: use it every 6 months and replace it.

Juke from Indonesia share her experience of preparing the survival kit for disasters in general, wisdom inherited from her grandparents,

In Indonesia there has never been a formal training on what to do in case of earthquake or other natural disaster. There were some sporadic improvements following Aceh tsunami. I think now office buildings held drills from time to time. I was raised by wise grandparents who told me to keep a bag pack complete with water bottle, digestive biscuits, flashlight, and clean clothes if possible, plus put important documents in classified folders handy. In case of emergency, flee. They survived three wars with that and after the independence they loan their knowledge to us in case of natural emergencies (flood is quite common in Jakarta, especially in area where I grew up).

Thaly and Joey discussed about the condition in Beirut. I was not aware that Lebanon is also an earthquake prone country, and Thaly explained it to me.

Beirut has been destroyed 7 times because of earthquakes. We have two active faults which is a lot for the tiny country we are.

(To compare, there are 42 active faults in Taiwan, and Taiwan is not a big country, either. On top of that, we have a dormant volcano.)

Joey said the collapse of buildings is the greatest concerns if there were an earthquake. (it is sad to know)

If Beirut ever gets an actual earthquake, the damages would be greater than the 2006 Israeli bombings. I did my undergraduate studies in environmental health and one of the main things repeated time and time again is that much of the city is essentially at risk of collapse, especially older structures, in case of something big like an earthquake. And don't forget that 1- it's a coastal city and 2- it's densely populated (or at least frequented as roughly a million+ people go in and out of the city every day). So yeah, let's hope nothing happens.

Elizabeth from Mexico and Chile told us the survival kit can be very simple. (Yeah! I like simple ideas.)

The only things I keep handy are a flashlight and a pair of sneakers. In a hard earthquake, say above 8, you can’t even walk, let alone look for any kit you have stored somewhere. That’s just my experience.

I also dig into our old conversation, we have discussions about earthquakes in Italy, Mexico, Nepal, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Greece, Indonesia, and Taiwan over the years. And I found the conversation between Rezwan from (different countries in) South Asia and (probably) Eli, sharing their observation of what people in Indonesia and Chile do in an earthquake.

[Rezwan] I experienced a 7.1 earthquake in Jakarta – I was on the ground floor and it was shaking like anything. And local people were like – this is normal – lets go out in the open slowly.
[Eli] Seems like ppl in Jakarta and Chile are very used to earthquakes and act seemingly.
The strongest one I've experienced is an 8.8 in 2010. Here in Chile people react really calmly to them (up until the 7 scale). Mexico moves a lot too. But in Mexico City, earthquakes last longer because the city lays on top of an old lake. There, the strongest I lived was an 8.5 Unfortunately, that one did destroyed the city, so people are not so relaxed about earthquakes.

I must admit, as a Taiwanese, I can remain calm up until the 4 scale (I cannot imagine the 7 scale), and then I would start to think what to do if the earthquakes get bigger. I think I would just grab my daily bag and hiking backpack (as my survival kit). Hopefully I have the wallet, cell phone, water bottle, flashlight, whistle, hat, and rain jacket inside these two bags. A pair of durable shoes and the cell phone charger are definitely important, if I have time to find them. In addition to the survival kit, I guess the most important thing in an earthquake is luck and strong will to survive.

Any wisdom from an earthquake prone country? Feel free to join our conversation.

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