Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Preparing for The Big One

Arriving home from dinner last night, I looked up and saw a beautiful full moon in a partially cloudy sky. The air was cool and calm. "Earthquake weather," I thought to myself. The phenomenon known as earthquake weather is nothing more than folklore; earthquakes occur in all kinds of weather, as Cantabrians experiencing quakes almost continuously for the past two years will be able to tell you. It's just that a windless night is particularly noticeable in Wellington.

We did have an earthquake last night - a big one. A magnitude 7.0 quake is huge, even though this one was 230 km deep and 170 km north of Wellington. It certainly was the biggest earthquake I have ever felt and went for a long time, and that's saying something considering that I grew up in Wellington waiting for The Big One that is apparently more than 100 years overdue. I went to school on a faultline which means that my first instinct at a rattle is to dive under a desk or head for the nearest door frame. Memories of earthquakes during school exams 20 years ago instantly came flooding back and my Facebook timeline was quickly filled with similar stories from school mates. Not to mention Twitter going for it!

Today is a good time to reflect on how things went last night. Geonet was struggling to keep up as everyone raced to the check out the drums and recent quakes sections. Our internet was temporarily down but all other services kept working. Still, I was tempted to go to bed dressed and ready for action in case there were further quakes and did a mental check of our survival kit. We are certainly better prepared than we were during our powerless evening last August. We have bought a first aid kid in a backpack and have smaller first aid kits in our cars along with a number of shake torches scattered within reach. We have plenty of 3 litre water bottles filled and stored along with our sleeping bags and medical supplies. We need to do a better job of assembling batteries to charge phones and power radios etc. We'll hopefully be fine so long as we can stay at home after a major earthquake but still need to sort out getaway kits. There was a little aftershock that we also felt, but otherwise everything was ok. Still, you never know if this was the precusor to something bigger or the actual event itself.

Have you got your emergency and getaway kits sorted? How prepared would you be in a disaster?

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