Right after lunch yesterday, around 1:30 PM (Vietnam Time), I received a message that an 8.8 earthquake hit Japan (2:46 PM Japan Time) which was later upgraded to 8.9. Not long after that, a tsunami hit its northern east coast. An acquaintance in Japan said that even till 9 PM, she couldn’t sleep because of the aftershocks. More than 30 aftershocks were recorded. By pre-dawn this Saturday, another earthquake hit Japan with a 6.7 magnitude. With Japan being in the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is no stranger to volcano eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis. More than any other country in the world, it is the most prepared to deal with such situations. What the Japanese didn’t expect was this earthquake of this magnitude. And now, because of the serious damage the quake has done, Japan’s nuclear power plant is in danger of nuclear leaks.
Because of the news, I wanted to go home to my son right away and pack an emergency bag. I spoke with my officemates and they said that Vietnam isn’t usually hit by earthquakes. They told me the last one that they felt was in August 5, 2005 and the center was in Vung Tau at 4.5 magnitude. My officemate was on the ground and he said he hardly felt it but those who were on the 16th floor felt the building sway. The last recorded earthquake in Vietnam was in June 23, 2010 that tipped the Richter scale to 4.7. 4.7 by Philippine standard is not something that causes anybody alarm. Seating firmly at the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines had more than it’s share of disasters. So it was really bad to hear that the Philippines is one of the 50 countries that may be affected by tsunami due to Japan’s most recent 8.9 temblor. My mom is living in one of the coastal areas in Quezon and most of my mom’s side of the family live in Catanduanes.
I don’t know about you, but the frequent natural disasters are enough to remind us that the protests and fight for power in some Middle Eastern countries are unimportant. The wrath of Mother Earth is something we can never anticipate and readily prepare for, so why waste time bickering?
Here in Vietnam, I don’t feel the locals frightened by the possible earthquake because they haven’t really experienced it. But that’s exactly what happened in Haiti quake in 2010. Haitians were ill-prepared for the disaster and lost thousands of lives and properties. I just don’t want to be complacent. Last month, it was New Zealand. Yesterday, it was Japan. Today? Who knows?
On March 19, the moon will be closest to earth (in the last 18 years). Scientists predicts that floods will occur because of moon’s gravitational pull on the earth affecting tides. Simple science. Either that or a lot of men will transform into wolves. Astrologers of course have a different take on the event as they predict natural disasters will strike.
Call it over-reaction but I AM packing an emergency bag courtesy of 72hours.org.
Build a Kit
After a major disaster the usual services we take for granted, such as running water, refrigeration, and telephones, may be unavailable. Experts recommend that you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days. Store your household disaster kit in an easily accessible location. Put contents in a large, watertight container (e.g. a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels) that you can move easily.
Your basic emergency kit should include:
- Water – one gallon per person per day
- Food – ready to eat or requiring minimal water
- Manual can opener and other cooking supplies
- Plates, utensils and other feeding supplies
- First Aid kit & instructions
- A copy of important documents & phone numbers
- Warm clothes and rain gear for each family member.
- Heavy work gloves
- Disposable camera
- Unscented liquid household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification
- Personal hygiene items including toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer and soap
- Plastic sheeting, duct tape and utility knife for covering broken windows
- Tools such as a crowbar, hammer & nails, staple gun, adjustable wrench and bungee cords.
- Blanket or sleeping bag
- Large heavy duty plastic bags and a plastic bucket for waste and sanitation
- Any special-needs items for children,seniors or people with disabilities. Don’t forget water and supplies for your pets.
A component of your disaster kit is your Go-bag. Put the following items together in a backpack or another easy to carry container in case you must evacuate quickly. Prepare one Go-bag for each family member and make sure each has an I.D. tag. You may not be at home when an emergency strikes so keep some additional supplies in your car and at work, considering what you would need for your immediate safety.
- Radio – battery operated
- Dust mask
- Pocket knife
- Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls
- Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes, and a warm hat
- Local map
- Some water and food
- Permanent marker, paper and tape
- Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
- List of emergency point-of -contact phone numbers
- List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
- Copy of health insurance and identification cards
- Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
- Prescription medications and first aid supplies
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Extra keys to your house and vehicle
- Any special-needs items for children,seniors or people with disabilities. Don’t forget to make a Go-bag for your pets.
Be vigilant everyone!