Living on an active fault line
I’ve experienced a few earthquakes now, two of which were scary. I’m talking huddled-under-the-desk scared, with ten floors of offices above my head, while the building shook like a rattle in a toddler’s fist. Not fun.
Most of them are gentle, varying from a slight jolt to a swaying sensation, much like being on a boat. I’m fine with those, after all, it’s part of the trade-off for living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world: it’s also one of the most seismically active.
Anyway. Most people who live here, certainly those in the vast area from Christchurch through to Wellington, have adopted new behaviours over the past few years.
1. Keep the phone charged
As soon as it drops to half-battery, I whip out my charging cable. It might shave a few months from the expected lifespan of the battery, but it’s better than being caught with no electricity and just a few minutes of power left.
2. Carry the phone everywhere!
While I’m at work, it goes with me (on silent) to every meeting, every time I venture outside, or go to the bathroom or the kitchen. If I get stuck somewhere, I can use it to call for help (if the phone network is still working), use the flashlight (another reason to always keep the battery full!), or—hopefully—text my family to tell them I’m safe and to ask if they’re okay.
3. Keep the petrol tank in the car at least half full
I might have to evacuate in a hurry, with no time to top up the tank. Also, in the event of a big quake, the power lines will be down and the petrol stations not working.
4. Look out for ‘safe zones’ when out and about
The main shopping street in Wellington is filled with tower blocks and glass. I dread the idea of being caught there if the Big One happened, but I keep an eye on safe zones: doorways and recesses, or areas of open ground well away from the buildings. I’d dive under a café table if it offered me some shelter.
5. Always have trainers / flat shoes / walking boots at hand
Wellingtonians usually wear flat shoes around the city (it’s hilly, with uneven sidewalks), but I now always keep a sturdy pair of comfortable trainers (and socks) under my desk. Not so much for walking the ninety km home, but for walking to a friend’s house if I get stranded in the city.
There are other things I do now, that I never did before (hoard bottled water and muesli bars at home, and always keep a flashlight by the side of my bed), but I might save those for another list.
Did I miss anything? What do you do differently now?