I have been pretty lucky, being in Hamilton. I never thought I would say that, but the cyclones that have been hitting New Zealand – they have all but missed us.
Natural disasters – be it earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, or other events – will happen regardless of whether we want them to or not, and there is very little anyone can do about it.
In fear of sounding like a girl scout – We should be prepared. This is especially important if we’re heading to an area where disasters are known to occur.
Before leaving, find out whether your country/government has a travelers registration site like this one. Registration should be free, but it will mean that in case of an emergency, someone is able to relay important information and account for your safety and well-being.
The Red Cross have a pretty handy tsunami checklist, with information for before, during, and after; as well as a handy app that monitors 35+ emergency and storm alerts.
In short, if facing a tsunami:
- Find the escape route. Make sure it can get you at least 30m/100ft above sea level or 2-3km/2mi inland.
- Check out your route ahead of time in case you have to navigate it at night.
- If a tsunami is triggered, get away immediately. Take an emergency radio with you and monitor the situation until it’s safe to return.
- Finally, wait until the all-clear because one tsunami wave can hide another, larger one.
Floods are a little easier to predict – sometimes. If you happen to live in an area with aquatic life, be extra careful or you might come face-to-face with an alligator or water snakes. The other danger is downed power lines; electricity coupled with water is never something to take lightly. Just stay indoors.
Too many people lose their lives trying to drive through flood waters, it isn’t worth it.
Earthquakes can be terrifying, and with tons of conflicting information it can be hard to know what to do. The current method recommended to reduce the chance of injury is drop, cover, and hold.
This is suggested as most injuries in an earthquake are from falling and flying objects. You’re much more likely to be injured by these objects than you are dying in a collapsing building.
If there is no furniture nearby, you can still reduce the chance of injury from falling objects by getting down next to an interior wall and covering your head and neck with your arms (exterior walls are more likely to collapse and have windows that may break). If you are in bed, the best thing to do is to stay there and cover your head with a pillow. Studies of injuries in earthquakes show that people who moved from their beds would not have been injured if they had remained in bed.
You can also reduce your chance of injury or damage to your belongings by securing them in the first place. Secure top heavy furniture to walls with flexible straps. Use earthquake putty or velcro fasteners for objects on tables, shelves, or other furniture.
This page here has some more awesome information on what to do in an earthquake.
There are many more places to find information; local information centers, and the internet are probably some of the easiest ways to get this.
Know what you are going into before you get there, and remember – in cases of emergencies, its better to be safe rather than sorry. You can replace a house, a car, clothing, and cameras – but your loved ones can never replace you.