Sep 27, 2017

Be Ready!

On Sunday, I received a forwarded whatsapp image


With the typical disdain of an Anglophile, I was about to dismiss this image, particularly turned off by the mishmash that is supposed to be English in it. But the dates and the area of influence mentioned niggled me into doing a bit of research on this. You know how I feel about rumor-mongering if you have read this blog post of mine.

What I did find was an article in the Hindu - this is the link to the same  - regarding this Mr. Babu Kalayil and how he had predicted the 2004 earthquake and subsequent tsunami and how the Kerala University has a team of academics doing research with him.  The Hindu is NOT a tabloid rag and that lent the news some credibility.

Then I sat back and thought about one January morning in 2001 when the earth shook in my native town of Kottayam. It was a relatively minor quake and no one in my community was harmed. But I remembered standing still wondering what was happening to my glass of tea that was trying to dance across the top of the TV and my sister coming out of the bathroom clad in a towel shouting that the building is falling. Funny now, but how naive and unprepared were we?

Naturally I was concerned for my loved ones. DH, I know has mock drills for fire escape and such things on a regular basis in his office and knows what to do in emergency situations. But what about the kids, and their school? 

The next thing I did was to call Mr. Babu Kalayil himself to confirm whether the letter was actually written by him or whether somebody had used his name. He confirmed that it was his prediction and that he had informed the Chief Minister of Kerala as well as the meterorology department who haven't heeded his words.

The next thing I did was to meet the Principal of our kids' school and ask him about whether there was any disaster response plan in place. Predictably there was nothing. He had the grace to hear me out and accept a printout of the Himachal Pradesh government's emergency evacuation plan and mock drill directives for educational institutions that I had got off the internet. But he said he would not take any steps based on the information until a government directive is given.

I was disappointed. From what I have seen of governments so far, they are seldom proactive. The safety guidelines, regulations and directives are formulated and put in place always AFTER a cataclysmic event. The Principal told me that he was afraid that he would be the laughing stock of his staff members if he put a disaster management drill in place due to this warning!!! I told him that I had surmounted the same fear in going to meet him. It was only the thought that I wouldn't be able to live with my conscience in the eventuality that something bad happened and I had not done ANYTHING in preparation that helped me overcome the fear of ridicule. I also reminded him of the story of Noah who had been the butt of ridicule before the Deluge, and how none of those who ridiculed him had survived.

Earthquake prediction as a science is still in a very nascent stage. It has a lot of variables and when a guy says he is using extra sensory perception to detect it, the news is very suspect. But it will not hurt to be prepared. If nothing happens, I will be the first to laugh at my fears on New Year's Day, 2018. In the meanwhile, I will be educating my family on earthquake survival and making a plan in case we all are in different places at the time. And we will probably be avoiding the beaches for some time.

Here are a few good resources that could help you prepare: 

  1. The US government's site: https://www.ready.gov/earthquakes
  2. A video, "When the Earth Shakes": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXxPTAhMGLI
  3. The Himachal government's pdf on mock drills in schools: http://www.shimlamc.org/file.axd?file=2016%2F1%2FMock+Drills-+Guidance+Note+for+Schools+(29-03).pdf

Forewarned is forearmed and it NEVER hurts to be prepared. Until the 2004 tsunami hit Indian shores, no one knew that such a thing could happen. Until the ground shook beneath me in 2001, I didn't know earthquakes could happen in Kerala.

So, what are you going to do?

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