Sunday, October 11, 2015

21 Days Left - Lessons I've Learned as an Expat

I'd better be ready

This is one I know in my head, but haven't done a very good job of putting into practice.  Be ready, with little to no notice, for a disaster or to leave the country.  

I'm from Michigan.   Disasters don't happen in Michigan.  We don't get tsunamis coming from Chicago over Lake Michigan; there aren't any avalanches in the Porcupine Mountains; we aren't on the ring of fire, so we don't tend to have earthquakes; we aren't on a coast, so no hurricanes.  Michigan is a really great place to live.  What can happen?  Tornadoes, thunderstorms, snow storms and people did freak out about Y-2K.  I didn't grow up with an emergency to go kit other than a warm blanket in the trunk and a pair of jumper cables.  This is new territory for me and I'm not very good at it.

I've got friends that have gone through major disasters - the earthquake in Tokyo, the earthquake in Haiti, the earthquake in Nepal and fires in Moscow.  They've been evacuated for political unrest in Cairo.  Medical emergencies give family or friends little time to find the important papers that need to accompany the patient.  So it's important to have some things put together for an emergency.

So far I've had two earthquakes and one typhoon in my two months in Taipei.  It's put me a little on edge and you would think that I would be working harder to really have things in order. 

For a natural disaster I have 10 gallons of water set aside and food for 3 days that doesn't need to be cooked.  (We'll be eating a lot of pb&j, but we'll survive.)  We have a candle lantern and good supply of regular old candles.  I worked with my neighbor to be sure we had all the parts to the emergency sling in case we need to get out of the window from five stories up.   (Rather than a sling where you are lowered to safety, it's more like a belt you wear while you repel down the side of the building.  I might need to do a trial run!)  In case of an emergency evacuation, I have my passport ready and all important papers are together.  I need to consolidate them a bit and put them in a more logical place.  What I don't have is my "to go bag."  I need to think this through a bit and at least make a list to tape on the front of my important papers folder.  That way, when I grab the papers, I don't have to think about what needs to be packed, I can just follow the list.  

There are emergencies wherever you live.  I can think of only one friend back home who was truly prepared.  They had large cans of food to last a week or month.  It was stashed in an accessible place, but out of the way.  They had really thought through what they would need in an emergency.  In Michigan, you at least need your car stocked for getting stranded in a snow storm.  We helped our son this summer get his emergency crate ready for the trunk of his car.  A wool blanket, jumper cables, flashlight and oil.  I'm not sure if anything else was added, but it's a good start.  

So I've got my work cut out for me and you do too.  Don't wait until it's too late.  With a little bit of planning and family discussion, you will be ready when an emergency happens.

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