Friday, March 11, 2011

What To Do In An Earthquake

With the news about the big earthquake in Japan and most of the English speakers visiting Japan who called into CNN/sent video not knowing what to do I thought I'd give some quick tips. Growing up pretty much on top of the San Andreas Fault, we had like an entire unit on this in school. This all applies to if you're in a building, if you aren't in a building just get out from under everything and away from big pieces of glass like bus shelters or windows. And keep an eye out to make sure nothing is falling towards you.

First and foremost, don't panic. You need to keep an eye out for things falling down. And it will be over in a minute or two.

Second, make sure you aren't standing near or under things. Shelves (including things on shelves) and picture frames hung on the wall with nails and not poster stickies are the number one danger to your safety. They are the most common things to fall and getting hit with things sucks. It is also a good idea to not stand under ceiling fans and chandeliers because they can sometimes fall down, especially in rougher earthquakes.

Third, take cover under something structurally strong and preferably on the edge of a room. My default is always a doorway since more often than not they are going to not be rickety and they are as far from the center of a room as possible. If you're in a place where there is a bunch of glass around the door(s) or has automatic doors or other people are occupying the door frame then look for a desk or some other sturdy looking piece of furniture that has built up sides (the side drawers on a desk for example) but not too much weight on top. Hiding under a bed would be bad, for example, because if the roof does collapse on you the little legs might collapse and then you have a bed AND a roof on top of you. Tables also aren't so good because they tend to have thin legs but it would be better than nothing or a bed. Avoiding the center of a room is good because that is where the roof would start to collapse, the walls support the edges most after all.

Fourth, once the earthquake is over make sure everyone is okay. If it was really bad then leave a note on the door (if you're at home) and go check around outside to see if anyone needs help. Take your emergency backpack and stay outside if you have any suspicion that the building you were in may be structurally compromised.

Now, there is also an important step if you live or are spending a prolonged amount of time (like an internship in Tokyo) in a tectonically active area. Be prepared. Have a backpack or a strong plastic storage box with a few simple things in it. If you're going to have to leave your home in a hurry it is better safe than sorry. If you have a bug out bag already (for those of you zombie apocalypse prepared lolitas) then you're fine. Just think about adding a pair of sturdy shoes and a pair of thick leather gloves to it. If you're just making an earthquake emergency pack then here's a quick and simple list:

-One or two unopened water bottles
-A box of granola bars or other long lasting ready to eat food
-A Jacket
-A pair of sturdy shoes (I always kept those next to my bag so I could just slip them on)
-A pair of thick leather gloves (work gloves are fine if you live somewhere warm but consider mechanic or other insulated gloves if you get snow/very cold)
-A spare set of clothes
-Photocopies (or originals) of all important docs like Social Security cards, passports, car titles, etc
-A spare set of keys to your house and cars
-Some cash.

You want to include the spare keys and cash (and a photocopy of a photo id) in case you can't get to your purse/keys. My purse and keys live next to my emergency bag but it would suck to not have those. And yes, everything in there is pretty much worse case scenario but this is like insurance. You don't want to and probably never will use it but you'll be thankful if you ever do.

I hope that helps anyone who is thinking of moving to Japan or anywhere else that gets earthquakes fairly regularly and I wish all Japanese lolitas and not lolitas alike good luck if they were effected by the earthquake or tsunami.

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