Experiencing an earthquake, flood, tornado or any other natural disaster isn’t something we think about prior to setting off on our journey around the world. Why would we?
But thinking it’s not going to happen to us, isn’t going to prevent it from happening. Being prepared for the worst is imperative so that we can eliminate any danger to ourselves and others around us.
Early hours of this morning at 12:02am in Wellington, New Zealand I was woken by my bed violently shaking. It didn’t take long to realise this was unlike any other minor shudder we’d felt during our time here over the past year.
Despite us being safe during the earthquake and remaining aftershocks (that have lasted most of today) it made me realise that I wasn’t as prepared as I needed to be!
Sometimes when we’re faced with situations like this, we act impulsively which can ultimately lead to making bad decisions. So to encourage myself and others to do something before it’s too late I’ve compiled a list, so please read and take note:
Before deciding on visiting a country check the risks. Are earthquakes a regular occurrence? If so, how often are they? Can you avoid going to areas that are more at risk? Talk it out with your family/friends and get their opinion. Try not to be selfish in your decision. Yes, it’s your life but it’s never fun worrying about someone you care for.
When you get to your chosen destination, try to make a few friends. You’ll be surprised how many friends (and colleagues, if you’re on a working visa) will call/text you to check if you’re ok if a disaster strikes. Likewise, contact your friends and colleagues who may need you in a time of stress.
Always have a vague idea of what you’d do in a natural disaster. Even though you can never determine where you’ll be or who you’ll be with it’s always comforting to have some sort of a plan. For instance, decide on a safe meeting spot to reunite with someone you’re traveling with or if you’re at home a means to get to a high ground.
When communicating try to text unless it’s an emergency. This keeps the lines clear for others who desperately need to call for help. Also, make sure your phone is constantly charged, if you can’t always guarantee this, as most of us can’t, buy a pre-paid phone for your survival kit, ensure it’s fully charged with minutes ready to use.
When you arrive at a new destination and check into your accommodation always take a minute to study your escape routes. Be aware of how far you are from the sea and how long it would take to get to high ground by foot. Knowing the emergency number for the country you’re in goes without saying, if you can’t remember, get them saved!
Take the advice you receive from locals and don’t stall. This is a big mistake I made as I hadn’t put a survival kit together for myself. Don’t put these things off, it will take less than an hour of your time and you’ll thank yourself later. Try to have a few kits if possible. One at home, one in work and preferably one with you when you’re out and about.
If you’re struggling to get hold of anyone close by, contact your family or friends who are in a different country. Even though they are what seems like a million miles away make contact with them and tell them your whereabouts as precisely as you can. Someone knowing where you are is better than no one.
If you have access to the internet keep up to date with the latest news. Twitter is the fastest and most reliable source when it comes to this. Further, start following emergency services, weather channels and news channels for the country you’re in, these will be feeding you the most relevant information.
Have any of you been caught up in a natural disaster? Are there any tips you have for preparing? Or things you would do differently when visiting a new country that has these risks…