Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Life: Warp Speed Ahead & Earthquakes

At the beginning of my adoption process I reflected back on my life and concluded that for the past 15 years it has been predictable. This isn't to say that there hasn't been excitement, joy and other interesting, new and challenging things, but everything was, for the most part, very foreseeable. Now that has all changed. I feel like I'm on a roller coaster that flew off the tracks and is now racing at warp speed into a very unpredictable future.

I surely didn't expect to lose Max. Now, at the age of 95, my dear TuTu (grandmother) is finally showing her age. Until 6 weeks ago she lived on her own, for the most part, she even drove, shopped and cared for herself. It seems she may have had a mini stroke that has left her very weak and fragile. She is now living with my aunty and I'm changing my lifestyle to include trips to be with her and help out several times a month. The drive is about 3 hours if I stick to the speed limit and if there isn't any traffic. The fact that at 95 death can come at any time is not unpredictable, but the fact that my TuTu is now so frail is unexpected. She's very surprised, too. It's hard for her to have all her metal functions intact and to be physically unable to live as she is accustomed to living.

I am now wondering what the future holds for me. I know that I'll have my daughter, but I can't make any other predictions. I like the feeling of getting out of a sort of rut, but I have a tiny tinge of disquiet at the unknown, too.

We had an earthquake one week ago tonight. Where I live, this is predicable, but what if we have "the big one" and I lose my home? It didn't seem like a huge problem when I didn't have a daughter to think about. After all, I have my emergency kit and camping equipment. But now I feel a vulnerability that I didn't feel before.

FYI, the earthquake was a 5.6 and rather gentle, vibrating and rolling, not jerking, but lasted long enough to have a full conversation with the rest of my Mandarin class on whether or not we should stand in the doorway or get under the tables. Here are the new FEMA guidelines:

What to Do During an Earthquake

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If Indoors

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON on until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.

  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.

  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.

  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.

  • Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.

  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

  • DO NOT use the elevators.

  • If Outdoors

  • Stay there.

  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.

  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

  • If In a Moving Vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.

  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

  • If Trapped Under Debris

  • Do not light a match.

  • Do not move about or kick up dust.

  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.

  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

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