So first off there was in fact no Drop Cover or Holding going on in our apartment. On account of I had a monster Migraine all night, and the last thing I was gonna do was muck around getting under the table. Getting out of bed was a big enough challenge, and I only did that so That I would be awake for my family to text me and so I could text them back.
Lesson 1: If a quake strikes when I have a migraine – I’m stuffed.
However, trying to hold my brains inside my head, I did watch TVNZ so that I would at least learn what to expect.
Lesson 2: NZ Breakfast news is painfully bad. In fact – its basically just a crappy home shopping channel masquerading as a Morning Show. I really don’t think the migraine made it any more painful, but TVNZ sure made my head ache worse.
So – the Sting. Well – um – what “sting”.
Basically, once we had endured an Amped up guy selling us bagless vacuum cleaner (Cheaper than a Dyson without being allowed to use the word Dyson), we got to the drill. Except we didn’t. What we got was a show of a Primary School doing the drill. They got the Civil Defense message and the “Sting” (Basically a siren), we got to watch them getting it.
I couldn’t hear what the Civil Defense message said, heard the siren, but not that clearly, and just saw a bunch of kids dive under the table, a presenter looking really silly trying to fit under under a primary school desk, and a couple of adults not moving. I guess they were the film crew.
And after a minute or two they all got up.
That was it.
Lesson three: Adults don’t really fit under primary school desks.
Lesson Four: I really don’t know what this was supposed to teach me actually. That schools do Earthquake drills? That watching TV when an Earthquake hits will be a massive waste of time?
So anyway. After a while I duly got a text from my mum with the “We’re Ok” message, and sent one back saying that I got it and I would call later, and promptly went back to trying to hold my brains in. I called a few minutes later, but just to explain that I had a migraine and was basically going back to bed. I sure as hell was not going to take a walk up to the botanic gardens.
So was there any benefit?
Well, the rest of the family had the same issue with not really following what the point of the TVNZ segment was. As a National Drill – it was a total waste, and I think completely handled the wrong way. However, they did have some success in running their own drill. They have discovered a few issues with their own plan – like the emergency supplies are actually too heavy to carry out of the house. They have also figured out that while they have food and water, they didn’t have any pans in the kit, and they really need to buy a second Gas Stove (we need one in the kitchen to deal with frequent power cuts).
We also decided that waiting until they had got out of the house to send a text was too late – it needs to be sent as soon as the shaking stops if possible. Otherwise panic ensues.
It has also been useful for us in the apartment in actually getting our kits together. I have a small backpack almost ready to go – its an evolving situation!
So all in all – not a complete waste – but the “official” side of it was embarrassingly badly organized. I really don’t get what on earth the point was.
On Wednesday morning, New Zealand is running a Nationwide Earthquake Drill. We need to register, and then at 9.26am we are supposed to Drop, cover and Hold and practice our emergency procedure.
I reckon I’m gonna keep the curtains closed so the people in the apartments opposite don’t get to see me diving under the table, grabbing my rucksack and being in a right flap when there is actually no shaking going on.
It’s all been a bit slap-dash really. I was wondering how we were supposed to know what to do. I mean it’s all very well having a plan, but when you are about to take part in a nationwide exercise, it would be really helpful for there to be perhaps a TV program running. Perhaps one that shows the “Earthquake” gives you information suck as if it triggers a Tsunami Warming; what roads are blocked; if any buildings are damaged.
In short, New Zealand Shake out needs….
What we are actually getting is a “Sting” – apparently a siren that will play on Breakfast on TVNZ, and on several (but not all) radio stations:
Newstalk ZB, Classic Hits, Radio Rhema, Radio Live, More FM, and The Breeze.
Ah well, in the absence of any geeky roleplayers in charge, we are getting ready anyway. I suspect that this exercise will work much better for people in offices – rather than people like me, but even then, a lot of our preparation will be to test whether we can get text messages to each other. And whether I can actually walk up to the Botanic Garden with a backpack. Which is where I’m heading in the event of a tsunami ( and assuming that the bridge over the motorway still exists).
One thing: while we have been buying our bits for the emergency kit – I have been shocked to discover that
a/ Camping Stores such as Kathmandu and MacPac do not have a section for “Emergency Kit Supplies” which would be really useful for those of us not inclined to camping.
b/ They overcharge like wounded bloody bulls! Seriously $72 for a small microfiber towel???? Its worth about $10.
Strangely – we have been sourcing stuff from overseas. Again.
Back down to earth with a bang. Or a shake.
This probably won’t have made international news because the effects were not damaging, but last night at just after 10:30, we had a 7.0 Earthquake just off the coast of New Zealand (Near Taranaki). It was horrible.
In many ways – you do actually get very used to earthquakes here. Mild ones don’t even elicit much of a response – perhaps unless now you are living in Christchurch. And most people down there seem to be absolute experts in remaining calm. I imagine most people who are not able to do that will have left by now. I know I would’ve done.
But last night was a bit different.
Most quakes I have experienced here start with a jolt (sometimes you actually hear a Bang) and then the building rumbles or shakes.
Last night, there was no bang, no jolt, just a slow rolling motion. Which didn’t stop. And got worse. It built to a really nasty quake in the middle, at which point we were half way underneath the table, hubby was grabbing trainers in case we had to run for it, and I was grabbing coats off the back the dining chairs to use for cushioning – or in case we had to run for it.
This is what it looked like on the Quake Drums:
One thing – we really are utterly unprepared in the City Apartment. While diving for the table, I suddenly realised that if this was a Big One, we had no decent emergency kit here. So it is now my priority to get off my arse and sort it. So I will be getting a colourful backpack or two and getting my bits and pieced. (Checklist HERE). We will have a smallish kit for the city – our plan is actually to get out to the Wairarapa house – where my parents are amassing a fairly impressive kit, and have a BBQ!
A coloured backpack because its easier to carry, and because we have loads of black and grey ones here – for laptops. And I do not want to have to scrabble around in the middle of chaos trying to work out which black pack is the emergency one.
On a sort of amusing note: while diving for the table, I also heard the Death Star creaking. The good news is: it survived the quake – not even the Laser Array fell off. The bad news: yes – I am actually daft enough to worry about my newly built Lego Model, and probably need my head examining.
Hubby brought home a really useful “Get Ready and Get Thru” booklet prepared by Civil Defence. Presumably they think we won’t be able to cope with getting through unless it’s misspelled?
I really recommend getting one if Civil Defence haven’t sent you one (they didn’t send us one – but I don’t want to assume that they have printed millions of the books and just have them sitting in their offices waiting for people to pop in and ask for one.)
It looks like all the information is available o the website, but having had a look through it in both version – I actually feel that the book version is more helpful, in that it actually takes you through a pretty good process for working out your household emergency procedure.
Now, one of the things that we really hadn’t thought of – and is mentioned in this booklet is
Keeping at least seven days’ supply of essential medications
and making provisions for those that require refrigeration.
As you know, my brother has epilepsy, which requires daily meds, and my dad is Diabetic, which also requires meds, none of which we could buy over the counter even if there was a pharmacy we could get to. And while the emergency kit has basic pain killers and such in it – we actually hadn’t thought to get extra prescriptions.
So, in light of recent events, Dad and Brother dutifully went off to the doctors to ask for an extra prescription each to add to the kit. (There’s no such thing as stockpiling of prescriptions meds here like there is in the UK – you get one month at a time.)
Only the surgery didn’t know anything about this, and thought that we were talking about Over the counter medicines. So they showed the surgery the booklet, and explained that this was for our emergency kit – just in case “the big one” hit when there was only a few days of tablets left.
Another blank look occurred.
Anyway, it was decided that a visit with the nurse was required, but as it happened, the nurse phoned home later that day, and confirmed that they had no information about this, and would be discussing it in a staff meeting later that week.
Turns out that the staff meeting has resulted in this query being passed up the chain, so that someone, somewhere can decide if we can get a month of extra prescription to go in the emergency kit.
I’m not really sure why it has to be this difficult – I mean its not as if the stuff we need is abusable, or has a high street value (in fact it has no street value unless you have to be epileptic and have run out of meds in the middle of an earthquake and someone else managed to get a stash hidden away!)
But it strikes me as a bit odd that in all the “be prepared” stuff we hear, it seems no one has filtered this requirement down to the District Health Boards and GP’s.
(And I would just like to add – our local surgery is brilliant – and I’m sorry we have caused them extra work in having to look at this issue.)
Reproduced with Kind Permission – this is Smiler’s Earthquake kit (or emergency kit)- which is actually the best I’ve seen, and what we based ours on.
1 portable gas BBQ in a case with peizzo ignition
4 x gas cylinders
1 x saucepan
1 x sharp knife
Plastic disposable cutlery
Plastic disposable bowls
Full First aid kit with bandages, tape, painkillers, sterilised stuff.
Heavy duty gloves
Biohazard bags for waste disposal
2 x torches
Warm layers of old clothing, fleeces & change of underwear
Heavy duty boots for both of us
Photocopies of passports, birth certs, insurance and other important docs.
Print out of important names, address, phone numbers etc.
Some money (Note – or Fags which could be worth more than money if you have to barter!)
Towels (big bath ones that can be used for warmth too)
Tooth brushes and paste
Leather man tool
Water & Food. (soup, beans, etc stuff that doesn’t need hydrating, no sardines though)
Portable amateur radios (One at home or car, one with OH at work)
Comfort food (sweets, chocolate or whatever floats your boat)
A book (or something to do else to do to pass time)
A toy or games for the kids
Hand pump water filter (camping one)
Candles (I’m banned from having them after small incident hence the torches instead)
Added: A supply of any prescrition medicines you may need.
Spare car keys, suggested by Emma. Because the car might fare better than the house and if it does then you have access to somewhere warmer, comfy, with a radio and lights, dry to store gear in plus potentially extra gear already stored in the boot etc etc
This forms a really good kit. It’s not a bad idea to have the bulk of it in a large suitcase or a plastic box with wheels on so you can lug it round if the worst happens. Re-reading through the list – we have some holes in our kit – so need to improve it. Now is as good a time as any.
The biggest issue facing Christchurch seems to be Lack of water. This is because a lot of mains have burst, and the sewage system is damaged, so there is contamination. Many rural homes are on Tank water – so should be a lot more secure – but the tanks could crack. We have some really large water bottles that we really need to get filled from the tank now – that will keep us going for a while. But even if you don’t have those – the supermarkets here all sell 10l bottles of water.