Just if it helps... - Photoshots - the web folio of Tony Stewart.

Just if it helps…

We hear a lot about planning for a disaster. EQC have made the effort to raise awareness in recent years. I think to many people it means you need to have some extra beans in the cupboard, and you know your book case will probably fall over. It it helps any, I would like to share some observations, that might help elaborate on this somewhat. For CHCH folk I apologise. We have lived through this, and have a greater respect for mother nature and the magnitude of natural disasters. Though in some small way, I hope this may be of some benefit for those fortunate to still live with complacency! Here are some things learned from the Sept and Feb quakes, that I would suggest for preparedness.

– keep footwear and torch beside the bed. It might just be slippers and a small torch. When things start shaking and things start breaking, you’ll want to know where you are heading. Cut feet don’t help. It may not be your windows, but likely to be your TV or picture frames that have toppled. I would perhaps add to that, know where a fire extinguisher is if you need it.

– ensure you have enough water. Civil Defence suggests keeping enough water for 3 days. The reality is that it could well much longer as we have seen in the Eastern suburbs. We have a few lemonade bottles of water permanently in the deep freezer. The reality was that we should have had a lot more. Fortunately, from the last quake we didn’t loose water supply. We now have a couple of 20 litre containers in storage. Lightly bleached (1/2 teaspoon per 10 litre) you can store water for up to 12 months when topped right up and sealed.

– having comfy footwear at work or in the car. Many CHCH folk had to walk home after traffic became gridlocked, or streets became blocked by liquefaction. For some, this journey was 5-10km, so for ladies in heels, this would have been a nightmare. Some had to climb over the Port Hills to get to Lyttelton.

– keep contact phone numbers noted somewhere other than in your cellphone. You may have left your phone somewhere when evacuating, or have a low battery. Supposedly there has been at least one fatality in town when someone re-entering a building to salvage their handbag/phone after the initial quake. After all, who knows their partners cellphone by heart, when we too often just use redial or our phone’s directory?

– car cellphone charger. If power outages continue, you can at least keep up text communication. Noticeably, voice calls became clogged for the period of time after Feb 22nd, and many homes were without power for some days.

– if you have a old nappy bucket, or paint bucket with a lid – keep it! Add a bin liner, dash of bleach you will have a makeshift toilet. We had to improvise for the first few days when plumbing was uncertain. I was pleased we had our lidded bucket, or we would have had a dunny in our lawn!

– have a pre-arranged plan for collecting children, meeting up, who a back up babysitter might be. For many schools & kindy’s, this has been one of the biggest concerns in the aftermath of Feb 22nd. I know of some parents who didn’t make it home till after 9pm on the day of the quake (the quake was at 12.51pm). While these parents eventually collected children from the homes of well meaning friends, traffic gridlock & disrupted cell coverage caused a great deal of confusion and stress. I think next time, schools will have a much stricter approach to who and how they will release children after a disaster. This will definately send a ripple through the emergency policies of all schools nationwide.

– have a amount of cash permanently available. With power down, many EFTPOS terminals didnt work. Electronic cash registers didnt either for that matter. Yet many stores continued to operate with countertop cash trading. The generosity of many diary owners and service stations was very commendable, but you certainly cant rely on this.

– be aware of how much fuel is in your tank. Perhaps fill up when 1/2 empty, rather than when the light goes red. If you really need petrol, you may not be able to get some, the pumps may not be powered, or you simply might just be on limited rations (ie like 6 litres per vehicle in Japan recently).