December 2, 2021

Emergency Situations

One thing we don’t normally think about when we travel is natural disasters. It didn’t dawn on us to have a preparedness plan in place just in case. Of course we look at the weather just about everyday before we decide on what we’re doing today. But what about those unplanned events that happen. 

Typhoon storms happen often in different parts of the world. On our journey back in 2019 we left Malaysia and headed to S. Korea for the next month. Again we were unaware that this was storm season in the area. Think of it as Hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico. We no sooner got settled in Seoul when a storm was due to hit the coast near Incheon. Now mind you Seoul is not on the coast but the rains could be very heavy in the city even causing flooding. This is perhaps the first time we realized we need to pay attention to the local weather very closely. The storm hit the next evening and was not as bad as it could have been. A few weeks later we headed south to Busan to spend a couple of weeks there and then over to Fukuoka, Japan by ferry. Of course the day before we were leaving on the ferry another typhoon was announced that was to hit the southern coast of Japan. Oh great! I was not looking forwarded to spending 3 hrs on a ferry crossing the Sea of Japan in stormy seas. Luckily we escaped the storm as it didn’t arrive until the following day after arriving. By the way we took a hydrofoil and barely noticed the rough seas that day on our crossing to Fukuoka. 



We had just arrived in Kyoto, Japan when a typhoon was announced to hit the east coast of the country. So this time we went to the grocery store and stocked up since the forecast was pretty grim for the next couple of days. We had a second floor apartment so we weren’t worried about flooding just being stuck inside. As our luck would have it, it hit Tokyo hard. Areas in the city were flooded there and it rained for a full day in Kyoto. Upon our return to Tokyo we had a trip planned to Nikko in the mountains to see the famous shrine and the fall colors. Of course we received a notification just days before that it was cancelled due to many of the bullet trains being flooded out in the train yard where they were being held before the storm. So instead we hired a car and driver to take us there.   



While in the Philippines it was over Christmas and New Year holidays so no threat of storms during this time of the year. However we still needed to be vigilant about tsunamis in this part of the world. It had only been since 2011 since the coast of Japan had been devastated by a tsunami and Thailand in 2004. We were much more aware of the evacuation warning signs on the islands as well as the escape routes. This time our apartment was on the first floor of the building but we would be able to reach the 3rd floor if necessary since no where on the island was higher. Thankfully there wasn’t any storms or tsunamis the entire 3 months we were there.




Now talk about a double whammy. Since that we have moved to Lisbon and have been studying the history of the city that we realized they have earthquakes here 😳 In 1755 Lisbon was hit with a with a major earthquake of 7.7 that was like San Francisco where afterwards the city was on fire from the candles being used in the homes. Hours later after the earthquake the city was hit with a massive tsunami that destroyed a majority of the city. Although Lisbon is one of the oldest capital cities in Europe this is why many of the buildings here are not as old as other European cities. Of course we have talked about what to do in case of an earthquake here.


Now living in Portugal I see the wildfires that occur in the south of the country every summer that are hazardous to life and property. Wildfires are now more serious and dangerous than ever before. When we lived in Albuquerque, NM there were summers that smoked could be smelled in the air from nearby forests. Having worked for US Forest Service I was very aware of the potential dangers and trained in emergency procedures. While working in Arkansas we had to evacuate my office because of smoke hazards. So needless to say I also watch the fire forecasts in many areas of the world.

 

It may not be something that comes up in conversations between travel partners but it should. Not only do we have plans in place for medical emergencies but they also now include those for natural disasters too. My husband always tells me that he was a Boy Scout and must be prepared but the glamour of travel makes you forget. 


P.S.  Always make sure you have an ID on you whether hiking, biking or walking. 




 

 

 

 

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