Registering a magnitude of 8.9, the mega earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 was among the most intense ever recorded in history. Japan sits along the earthquake belt, the Pacific Ring of Fire, as they call it, so earthquakes in Japan are not at all strange. In fact, hundreds of earthquakes occur in Japan year in and year out, many of them hardly noticeable. But the Japanese, highly innovative and intelligent, are not complacent; they have earthquake-proof buildings and they regularly conduct earthquake drills to make sure that they will know what to do when the Big One comes. And Japan, unlike corruption-ridden countries, does not skimp on quality for profit. Its roads and buildings are not substandard. Well, the Big One did come, causing a massive tsunami and high magnitude aftershocks and it would go down to history as one of the most devastating catastrophes of the time. It was expectedly unexpected, and as of writing, death toll from one of the most recent earthquakes and the tsunami is not yet established, but one thing is certain, damages to property and life are extensive.
I happen to live in the Philippines, which like Japan also sits along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Mild to moderate earthquakes are common but are we prepared for the Big One? I’d like to share with you some tips on how to prepare for earthquakes and what to do during and after an earthquake:
Before a disaster strikes:
• Be always ready with emergency food supplies and bottled water. Stock up on storable foods and ready-to-eat meals that have a long shelf life.
• Have your flash light on hand and make sure you have extra batteries.
• Keep a battery-operated radio handy.
• Have authorities regularly conduct house or building inspections.
• Request for and participate in earthquake and fire drills regularly.
During an earthquake, pray. If you happen to be indoors,
• Don’t panic
• Don’t rush out of a building.
• Don’t get too close to windows.
• Duck under something very sturdy, like a heavy duty table or some other piece of furniture.
When inside a car,
• Move to somewhere far from buildings and trees and other structures that can collapse.
• Stop the car and stay inside.
After the earthquake,
• Pray and be thankful that you survived.
• Expect for after shocks.
• Help others who may be trapped or injured.
• Be on the lookout for fires, and try your best to prevent causing one.
I was deeply moved and saddened by the footages of the mega earthquake and how the equally mega tsunami wiped out cars, buildings, homes, and along with these, dreams. Material things are exactly just that – material. All things can be reduced to nothing in an instant. And so must begin a better appreciation of my life and of the people around me, and a deeper realization that there exists a greater force, a higher authority that no human mind in all its greatness can even fathom.