When you travel to an earthquake hotspot, you never usually expect the worst to happen. Although they regularly strike in certain places of the world (near fault lines, where two tectonic plates meet), it seems unlikely that you’ll ever experience it. However, it can happen. It’s important to stay vigilant and know what to expect when travelling to a location where there’s a lot of activity, and these six tips are sure to help you if you’re planning on heading off to an earthquake hotspot.
When travelling the world, it’s likely that you’ll come across a location that is known for its frequent earthquakes and tremors. Regions such as New Zealand, Japan and Indonesia are all highly prone, according to CTI – and they’re not the only places. As you’re probably aware, Nepal recently suffered a series of devastating earthquakes that killed thousands and left nearly a million homes and buildings destroyed. Somehow, the country is back up and thriving, and has been for over a year now – it was in the beginning of 2016 that tourists were encouraged to come back and visit. Red Cross responds to deadly earthquake in Ecuador have also very recently suffered and massive losses after unexpectedly huge quakes. It’s always key to know just how likely another event is, as it may affect your travelling plans. Stay informed!
Be respectful of past disasters
If you do decide to visit a country such as Nepal (which is highly encouraged), you need to bear in mind the recent devastation. It’s likely that the wounds are still fresh – especially if a lot of people, unfortunately, lost their lives. Understand that things may not be the same as they were, and processes could be slow. It takes a lot of time to rebuild a community from the ground up, and so your patience and understanding in the matter will likely be greatly appreciated. There might be memorials or tributes in place after an earthquake – the Canterbury Earthquake Memorial in New Zealand is frequently visited by locals and travellers alike – and it’s the perfect opportunity to pay respect to those who were lost.
Know how to stay safe in the case of an emergency
Although is truly is unlikely for you to be caught up in a major earthquake, it’s important that you’re aware of how to stay safe wherever you are just in case. If staying in a house or similar accommodation, know how to turn off the gas and water mains (if you have them) and locate a safe space where nothing could potentially fall on you. If shaking does begin, take cover under a table or a desk, away from any windows and big objects. Hold on and don’t move until you’re absolutely sure it’s definitely safe too. If you do happen to be outdoors and unable to get any shelter, find a clear spot that’s away from anything such as big buildings and power lines, and stay down on the ground. It’s only safe to move in both circumstances when the shaking has definitely stopped, and it’s still important to remain vigilant for aftershocks following the main quake.
See how you can help the community
As previously mentioned, places such as Nepal, Ecuador and Italy are still in the process of recovering after earthquakes that devastated thousands upon thousands of people and their homes and businesses. So, it’s likely they’ll always be looking for help from travellers who are willing. More than 800 volunteers grouped up with the Ecuadorian Red Cross to provide support for those who were affected, both physically and psychologically. Of course, this initial support was immediately after the disaster, so it’s likely that other ways to help have emerged. See if there are any shelters or rehabilitation facilities nearby that require volunteers, even if it’s just for a day or so. Donations are likely to always be welcomed, too. And, if you’re unable to help out in any other way, spending money in the location and even just the act of visiting is showing respect and helping out a community that has suffered massively.
Witness the beauty of your destination
Even when the process of rebuilding a community is in progress, it’s likely that there’s still plenty to do. Look into what activities are on offer – if tours and other similar excursions are available, why not take the opportunity? There’s so much beauty to be seen around the world – you’ll know if you’re an avid traveller –and there’s no reason to miss out. Hiking is a popular activity for the tourists who want to get out and see every part of their destination. The Nepalese Himalayas are hugely popular, and the trails that you’re able to trek through offer unmissable views of the surrounding landscape. It’s important that you embrace what’s on offer, as the countries that suffer most from frequent earthquakes usually have the most incredible panoramas.
Don’t worry too much about an earthquake
When you think about it, there isn’t really a place on Earth that’s completely not at risk of an earthquake. Although there obviously are hotspots, there’s a potential to experience a hit wherever you go. That’s why you shouldn’t fret when visiting somewhere that sees them more frequently than others – you probably won’t experience anything. There’s absolutely no reason to rule out visiting a destination that has a plethora of beautiful sights and a wonderful culture just because it’s a “hotspot”! When you’re travelling, you’ll likely get that feeling of wanderlust that urges you to visit every possible place, and so the thought of an earthquake definitely won’t be in the forefront of your mind. But, with that being said, make sure to prepare in case of an emergency and get some basic knowledge about natural disasters. Be willing to lend a helping hand to those who need it, and it’s satisfying to be able to embrace everything a recently affected area has to offer. Don’t miss out – the world is beautiful.
I’m Justin Treinhart, a travel journalist and avid traveller from England. After graduating from university in 2013, I had a sudden realisation that I hadn’t seen nearly enough of the world. I travelled for six months, seeing parts of Asia, Africa, Australasia and Europe that I’d longed to visit, and returned with an overwhelming sense of wanderlust that has kept me heading out into the big wide world ever since!
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