Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In the event of an emergency

Ever since the earthquake swarm in Central New Zealand over the past few days, there’s been renewed interest in preparedness and the natural disaster risks we face. Today I’m taking a look at both, and a bit more.

First, though, this post from GeoNet pretty well explains what's been going on in central New Zealand recently, what they know and what they don't know. They’re really getting good at explaining this stuff.

In the video above, faultlines and earthquakes in New Zealand are explained by Kelvin Berryman, from GNS Science. Earlier this year, I posted two videos about the earthquake and volcano risks for Auckland. Taken together, these videos explain what risks we face.

Knowing the risks is one thing, being prepared for them is another. I’ve frequently mentioned Get Thru, the official Civil Defence website to help New Zealanders prepare for natural disaster. Most of the information is relevant for anyone, anywhere. I’ve also talked before about how if one is in an emergency, sending a text message is more likely to work than trying to phone someone. This is because power may be disrupted, and also because the networks become jammed.

So, I suggested that after waiting awhile to let people needing help get through, it could be a good idea to use text messages to send a quick update to Twitter and Facebook to let a lot of people know all at once that you’re okay. And, again, I must stress: If you’re okay and not in danger, DON’T text: There may be people in dire need of help, so please stay out of their way.

When I first talked about this strategy, I also said that it’s important to keep your cellphone fully charged—at all times, if possible. That’s true, but I saw a Tweet after the largest quake this weekend that pointed out a few more things: Wifi connections and Bluetooth drain the battery, so in an emergency, turn them off. Also, turn down the brightness of the phone’s display. This will help preserve battery life, because in an emergency no one can know how long it will be until the phone can be charged.

Okay, so knowing the risks and being prepared are important, but the final piece is knowing that something has happened. GeoNet Quake is an App available for iOS and Android that displays earthquake activity. If you allow the App to send push notifications, it will let you know anytime there’s any sort of earthquake anywhere in New Zealand, or you can use filters. For example, I’d select Auckland as well as strong quakes anywhere so it doesn’t tell me about every little weak quake anywhere in the country.

Here in Auckland, we have an Auckland Civil Defence App available for iOS Devices (I don’t know if they’ve created an Android version). The App isn’t perfect, but it is a way to find out about any kind of civil defence emergency in the Auckland region.

So, the thing is to know the risks, to prepare for them and to be aware of dangers as they happen. Fortunately, thanks to the Internet and social media, all of these are easy to do. Actually doing them could save lives.

Finally, below is a more lighthearted advice video from a guy who’s the partner of a guy I follow on Twitter. Preparedness is important, but that doesn’t mean we have to be dour about it!

Get Ready, Get Thru!

No comments: