Taiwan being located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where 90% of the earthquakes occur, is known to have a common seismic activity, so natural disaster awareness is one of the biggest concerns all of us have when deciding to come to Taiwan caused by its reputation. Internet references, like Wikipedia, don’t help to ease our concerns, highlighting that Taiwan Island is prone to both Typhoons and Earthquakes due to its geographical location.  And now let’s add the fact that back home we grew watching the news about the earthquakes and following Tsunamis in Indonesia and Japan that occurred in the last decade.

Back home, in Honduras, earthquakes are far from common, being experienced only a couple which epicenters were hundreds of miles away from my city. That basically made me a complete ignorant about seismic safety since we are not taught contingency measures in case of earthquakes. Run? Hide bellow the table? Look for the emergency exit maybe? Tall buildings are a relatively a new thing in my small country therefore in case of emergency the only exit always was the door where we entered. Being said this, Taiwan have taught all of us about emergency measures for all the possible contingencies including Earthquakes and we can see how there is a systematized response to these cases where everyone is supposed to know what to do in case of emergency and the buildings have the proper equipment.

One month after arrive to Taiwan, I had the chance to visit the Taipei 101 and go up to the tower. It was impressive how the once tallest building in the world was erected in a seismic prone area and the artful devices it has to counter earthquakes and typhoons. I had the chance to learn about the caution and safety measures in Taiwanese buildings and watch videos of the occasions the building was proven against earthquakes and typhoons. So after learning all about the safety measures taken by the 

Taiwanese people and looking at some statistics, I was calmed.

 

After more than 9 months living in Taiwan, several minor earthquakes have occurred but I have felt none, excepting for one which occurred last November while we were in class in a ninth floor. It was not a strong one, but strong enough to shake the building and stop the class for several minutes. Some were scared and others just laughed, maybe a laugh caused by the nerves. I admit I was scared at first because I didn’t know if its intensity was supposed to increase nor how to react to an earthquake, but at the end just pretended to be cool with it. Other stronger earthquakes have occurred in Taiwan, but didn’t feel them or I was traveling abroad, like the one that which epicenter was near Tainan last February. I was lucky enough to be on my winter vacations, so once I read the news on my feeds I hurried to contact my friends in Taiwan, especially those who were spending their vacations back in their hometowns in southern Taiwan. Gladly none of them were injured and all the event was not more than an alarming chapter for them. Later on I read the news about the collapsed buildings and the victims, just to find out a few days later that those building in fact didn’t comply with the structural safety norms.

When you think about it, even though Taiwan is prone to earthquakes, some of Honduras neighboring countries are as well, and have had some disasters that caused thousands of victims. In conclusion, this means Taiwan is not specially more exposed to earthquakes than the other countries in the Pacific Ring of Fire (mine is part of it as well) but it is better prepared than most of them, which currently makes me less concerned about being a harmed by an eventuality while living in Taiwan.