Survive a Disaster in Mauritius
How to know if a disaster is happening? A prepared person will have more chance of surviving a disaster.
1. Always be in touch with your local Meteorological Service. In this case it is for Mauritius. (http://metservice.intnet.mu/ (+230) 686 1031 or (+230) 686 1032, St Paul Road, Vacoas)
2. Always check for the news on your radio (always keep with you batteries for the radio in case of CEB failure because CEB have power lines above the ground). Don’t rely too much on the internet as it is not a fast emergency line and servers might be down due to technical reasons! In emergency cases, the radio can broadcast a continuous emergency message such as what to do, where to go and so on.
3. Don’t be afraid of social interaction. If you don’t communicate with people you won’t know if there is an emergency case. For instance no one will phone you or text you if you are sleeping and there is a natural disaster happening.
4. If your animals are agitated it may be a sign of a disaster happening in the few minutes. Animals’ hearing capabilities are far better than humans and examples have been shown where they ‘hear’ tsunamis and earthquakes.
5. Check out the weather. Before natural disasters it has been observed that that sky is not a ‘normal sky’. The color of the sky might change. But this is applicable only during daylight.
6. Always keep your ears open. If radio and television and phone lines cannot broadcast (yes phone lines can broadcast emergency messages) then the police, Special Mobile Force (SMF) and other Emergency Response units will patrol your area and you will hear the emergency message via a huge loudspeaker like the one they use during elections.
7. Keep your eyes open. If you see people panicking and running everywhere then you should already guess that there is a problem!
8. Sign-up the email and SMS warning system that sends you an SMS whenever there is a Tsunami/Earthquake in your area. http://www.sms-tsunami-warning.com/
##Survival before a flood:
- If flood is immediate, run for the high grounds shouting “Run to the high grounds there is a flood!” This may seem stupid but it will prevent your loved ones from drowning.
- If flood is not immediate, ensure you have your survival kit with you (it is discussed below).
- Warn every person that you deem necessary.
- Secure your home.
- Unplug your electrical appliances to prevent electrical shocks.
- Take your basic documents such as I.D, Passport and so on.
- If you have time then move your furniture on high places.
- Find shelter.
Survival during a flood:
- Listen to the radio (found inside your survival kit and discussed below).
- Don’t adventure yourself in high water currents or water more than your height.
- Keep yourself warm.
- Try contacting authorities with your walkie talkie found in your survival kit or if you have a mobile phone and the lines are working.
Survival after a flood: See Survival After a Disaster section.
##Survival before a Tsunami:
- This is an extremely dangerous situation. Your life will depend on the few minutes or perhaps even few seconds before the impact. Shout “Tsunami is coming. Run!” This may seem stupid but it will prevent your loved ones from drowning.
- Leave whatever you were doing.
- Take a life jacket if you have one around you.
- Reach to high grounds and hold on to solid structures if possible (perhaps a tree).
- You can also grab something that floats if no solid structure is available. Or both.
Survival during a Tsunami:
- Keep holding on to whatever keeps you alive.
- Even life jackets may not help so don’t try to swim or let yourself get carried away by the strong waves.
Survival after a Tsunami:
- The sea water will take much time to go back to the sea again. So, if you see that the water is flowing backwards from original direction, keep holding on as the waves will still be strong.
- See Survival After a Disaster section
##Survival before and during an Earthquake
- Earthquakes happen almost everyday in Mauritius and Rodrigues but of very low magnitude. We can’t really feel them.
- When receiving a warning go to a place where the roof will not fall on your head. Stay away from furniture and heavy objects.
- If you are inside then put a strong heavy table against a hallway or get against an inside wall.
- If you are outside then move away from buildings, light posts, trees and so on. Stay in the open.
- If you are driving, move your car away from traffic (not under trees nor on bridges).
- Cover your head with your hands.
Survival after an Earthquake: See Survival After a Disaster section
##Survival before a cyclone:
- Consolidate your house
- Ensure you have enough supply of water and food.
- Listen to the radio.
- Cut down any trees/branch that you suspect might fall on your house.
Survival during a cyclone:
- Stay inside all the time
- Ration your food as you never know for how much time a cyclone will remain in force in Mauritius.
- Maximize your efforts not to fall sick or get injured
Survival after a cyclone: See Survival After a Disaster section
Survival before a Volcanic Eruption
In Mauritius, it is likely that it is Trou-aux-Cerfs that’s going to erupt one day (perhaps Grand Bassin also). Anyways, let us consider the eruption of Trou-aux-Cerfs. As it is on high grounds I can’t really suggest to run for the high grounds. I have divided the region into 3 Zones.
Zone 1 people, according to scientists, will feel an earthquake. They should run immediately or best chance to survive is to get into their car and flee. Trou-aux-Cerfs has been dormant for so long that, when it wakes up it’s lava will rise high in the sky. Apart from running there is no chance of survival. Better take an insurance.
Zone 2 people will also be in immediate danger. But perhaps they will have some minutes more than Zone 1 people. Zone 2 people can if possible take their survival kit along with important documents such as Land Title Deeds (yes they may claim the new formed land!)
Zone 3 people will have about 5-10 minutes to get away. Trou-aux-Cerfs’ lava will descend extremely fast due to its high altitude and there’s no ‘blockage system’ nor any valleys to stop that.
I am elaborating only on the lava’s effects. But it may be highly possible that the ashes will spread rapidly with the South East Trade Winds, blocking the sun if during the day and if at night, creating a huge panic. Personally, I would suggest an Assembly Point on the Western part of Mauritius. In this way, the mountains can stop the lava and when the wind changes direction, the ashes will move towards the South East. I have considered running towards Grand Bassin but it is as dangerous as staying near Trou-aux-Cerfs. Why? Because Grand Bassin also is a volcano, hence the Troux-aux-Cerfs Earthquake’s replica might affect Grand Bassin’s volcano. But I think I am being an alarmist here. But what to do, I consider every possibility.
Survival of any unknown circumstances: If you are in Mauritius and none of the circumstances apply to you then see Survival After a Disaster section.
##SURVIVAL AFTER A DISASTER
To ensure survival after a disaster, it is imperative that you are prepared before the disaster. First of all, you must have the right knowledge of what to do. Then, how to do it. You just can’t expect the emergency services to find you and care for you. It’s a disaster after all. You will probably be alone or with your loved ones.
As from now, start preparing your SURVIVAL KIT. Mauritius is becoming more prone to disasters. Your Survival Kit will be your only chance if you have not had experience living in nature before.
Below are the stuffs that need to be present in your Survival Kit. *Note that it may not be possible to have everything mentioned but the more you have, the better your survival chance*.
For keeping you warm and dry
2.Space blanket to keep you warm
3.Chemical heating pad as electrical ones would probably be of no use without electricity
4.Cotton balls to start a fire rapidly
5.Light tarpaulin to make a quick shelter
6.Poncho to keep you warm
7.Hot Spark for starting fire
For medical emergencies
5.Medical Adhesive tape
6.Medical tweezers can be used to remove foreign materials in a cut for instance
7.Surgical razor or scalpel
9.Rubber gloves when dealing with an injured person
10.Antibiotic cream and liquid disinfectants to use externally
11.Epinephrine to be used to prevent allergies caused primarily by insect stings
12.Antihistamines for allergic reactions such as Hay fever
13.Suture kit for closing wounds
14.Oxytetracycline tablets (for diarrhea or infection)
15.Oral rehydration salts
For food and water
2.Ready to Eat meals
4.Salt can be used to prevent dehydration from diarrhea and can save most cholera deaths
5.Heavy duty aluminum foil to create a distillation tube to remove salt from salt water during boiling/condensation.
To signal your position to rescuers and to find your own way
1.Whistle! Just like in the movie Titanic so as rescuers can find you in the dark if you got no light or voice
2.Signal Mirror - to let airplanes know your position
3.High Power Led Light possibly with flashing or strobe function
4.Laser pointer can be used as a last recourse if you can't make a fire at night
5.Flare: three fires in a triangle is the international distress signal
6.Analog watch with a compass
7.Map of Mauritius
8.Surveyor's tape - orange or chartreuse for marking location for rescuers
1.Swiss Army Knife - the image itself tells you what it can do
3.Compact saw such as Japanese style backsaw with coarse teeth
4.Iron pan so as to heat food or water
5.Red trash bag - can be used as cloth, sleep bag, shelter
6.Heavy-duty needle and thread for repairing clothing and equipment
7.Parachute cord can be used for many tasks