Earthquake Survival Tips & Nuclear Disaster Insurance

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2011-03-1712

Don’t mean to be a downer, but it’s been a tough week. Everyone has been following the events unfolding in Japan over the last week and we’re all praying that this will somehow resolve positively and avoid a catastrophic conclusion. I haven’t really expressed this before, but I have the greatest admiration for the Japanese, who are such disciplined people. I have been fortunate enough to have visited Japan many times in my life, where I enjoyed the cuisine, the culture and the people; it’s a place I consider as one of my favorite destinations in the world. So sad that so much is going on there right now.

I wonder too about living on the West Coast. Over here, people have been scrambling trying to get potassium iodide or sea kelp in drugstores and health food places. Too late for me, I didn’t get any and the stuff has already run out, but supposedly, reports out there tell us there’s no need to worry. But it got me thinking once again about how vulnerable we are to natural disasters like this — the West Coast is notorious for being an earthquake belt. I think of it now and again and get these reminders whenever a tremor hits somewhere in the world. I still recall Loma Prieta quake as if it were yesterday; back then I thought I was a goner for all of a minute and a half or however long it took to shake up the office building I was in.

It also doesn’t help that I find myself going paranoid over this type of story and videos like this:

How much stock should we place into earthquake predictions (some geologists say these are predictable, while a lot of others say these things aren’t)? Are changes in our natural habitat actually ominous signals of what’s to come?

Some General Disaster & Earthquake Survival Tips

The best we can do is to prepare for disasters. Here are some things that may be worth paying attention to:

Remember that the Japanese are well versed on earthquakes and tsunamis and are quite prepared for these eventualities. It just so happened that what happened last week was a much bigger quake than they could have imagined. Some tips to think about:

During times like these, my mind sometimes can’t help but dwell on grim possibilities. Do you ever wonder about what would happen if there happened to be a nuclear meltdown around the corner? It may help to see what kind of nuclear reactors are right by your neighborhood:

Heard Of Nuclear Disaster Insurance?

It would certainly be a rare occurrence, so this is all mostly catastrophizing, but there are some practical points that touch on finance that you may want to know about. While life and limb and our overall safety are the number one priorities here, our shelter and possessions may be next. Do you write it all off in the face of a nuclear meltdown?

The answer is actually quite interesting. lays down some basic points:

  1. Your home insurance policy won’t cover you for nuclear related damages, but it seems that the government will.
  2. The federal government has set up a pool that takes funding from companies involved in nuclear energy. If there are any accidents, this fund/pool will cover claims.
  3. Nuclear insurance is basically covered by the “Price-Anderson Act”, a law that was passed in 1987. What claims will it address? Those related to:
    • Sickness and illness that lead to death
    • Loss and damage of property and possessions
    • Bodily harm and injury
    • Expenses for evacuees

Sounds morbid, but if it’s any consolation, there’s this type of insurance to fall back on.

Personal Financial Articles

I could use some cheering up. Let’s traipse around the blogosphere for now.

Get Rich Slowly: Outsmarting Myself
Credit Karma Blog: Is Financial Minimalism Good For Your Credit Score?
The Simple Dollar: Making Homemade Yogurt
My Dollar Plan: How to File Old and Delinquent Tax Returns
Lazy Man and Money: Mohu Leaf Antenna Delivers Free TV
PT Money: Do You Buy Local, Meaningful Art Work?
Money Smart Life: Our Home Owner Warranty Claim
Brip Blap: 10 tips to avoid money worries
Gen X Finance: Five Ways I Plan To Save Money in February
Funny About Money: Busted, Disgusted, and Cain’t Be Trusted
Monevator: What The Big Short teaches the little guy
Oblivious Investor: Cameras, Computers, and Mutual Funds
Million Dollar Journey: Buying Foreclosures In Canada
Frugal Dad: Ideas to Trim (or Slash) Vacation Costs
Dough Roller: Stuff About Annuities
Free Money Finance: Would You Move to Lower Your Taxes?

Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kosmo @ The Soap Boxers March 18, 2011 at 10:09 am

Wow. I never realized there was such a big chunk of the country without nuclear power plants.

I pass within a few miles of one every day. I’m not overly concerned. I think that the plants are well managed, and the one near me isn’t particularly prone to earthquakes (the nearest fault line is the New Madrid fault, about 400 miles away).

I’m sure the folks in Japan will catch some flak, but they really found themselves in a perfect storm. A 9.0 quake is massive. The scale is logarithmic, rather than linear, with each step up being 32 times more powerful. That means that a 9.0 quake is 32 times more powerful than an 8.0. Follow that up with a tsunami … bad things are going to happen, regardless of how good your infrastructure is.

Silicon Valley Blogger March 18, 2011 at 11:00 am

@Kosmo, ever since I was a kid, I was most afraid of earthquakes. You can chuck that up to my queasy tummy and low enthusiasm for roller coasters. I am fine with typhoons and hurricanes. I grew up with that. I still remember some of the typhoons I’ve lived through (growing up in the tropics) — rooftops flying off, floods, etc. I got used to it. But earthquakes give me the heeby jeebies. The 7+ quake we had in 1989 here was horrid enough. The big quakes are scary because they seem to last forever (they grow in intensity). We’ve had 5.0 quakes here on occasion and they’re minor jolts so not a big deal. One other reason why I don’t like quakes… quake ==> fire. Need to turn off the gas asap as a precaution.

Kosmo @ The Soap Boxers March 18, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Does the lack of advance warning figure into your fear of quakes? With many other natural disasters, there’s a decent amount of warning – as bad as Hurrican Katrina was, people did know it was coming.

I remember the 1989 quake. I saw it unfold live on TV, since I was watching the World Series.

Funny about Money March 19, 2011 at 8:14 am

Hm. Don’t you just love it that our leaders in their infinite wisdom chose to build at least two reactors on West-Coast faults? There’s a big fault in the East, too; wouldn’t be surprised but what some of the reactors there are located near it.

Yes, I occasionally think about the possibility of a meltdown here. We have the Palo Verde reactor just down the road. It’s run by a particularly craven power company which found a way to make Arizona citizens pay for a power plant that supplies electricity to Southern California. It has a long rap sheet of violations and screw-ups. Not for a minute do I think a meltdown is impossible. Or even unlikely.

MyATM Holdings March 20, 2011 at 2:37 am

That prediction is really scary. And I hope he’s wrong. But we should all be prepared for things like earthquake and tsunamis. Stock up on food, flashlights, batteries, radio, map and cash among other things.

Jeremy Streich March 21, 2011 at 9:32 am

I think that it is like anything else, given enough time there will be an accident. If there is a .000000001 chance that a nuclear reactor will melt down in any given year, and it is left to run for an infinite number of years, then there is a 100% there will be a melt down. That is the same math for a large enough asteroid hitting the earth and killing all life on it. And similar math can be done for getting in the car, crossing the street, or getting struck by lightening. If the time line is infinity, it’s always an inevitability.

Here’s what it all boils down to, you’re going to die, there is 100% probability. Work, save and plan like you’ll live forever; live, play and love like theirs no tomorrow. Worry is just interest paid on trouble before hand. It won’t help to worry, just wastes precious time and energy.

Bethy March 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Thanks so much for the mention!

Doable Finance March 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I agree with Jeremy Streich 100%. Life is too short to worry about this kind of disaster. During the Cuban crisis, all major cities especially the ones with underground trains had and still do nuclear shelters. I know there is a difference between melt down and a nuclear attack. But even though Dr. StrangeLove was a sarcastic movie by Stanley Kubrick, but it was not too farfetched either.

Consumermiser March 28, 2011 at 12:35 am


This is pretty morbid, but you have to plan for the worst sometimes. As for buying nuclear insurance, I will pass and take my chances. There are a lot of nuclear power plants out there, but the disaster in Japan is a very, very rare event.

Good luck to you and others on California. I hope the experts are right that there is nothing to worry about in terms of radiation from Japan. It is interesting that the supply of potassium iodide pills is gone, but I think it’s because there was little supply to begin with and the recent scare has driven up demand. Folks are making a fortune on EBay!

Silicon Valley Blogger March 28, 2011 at 12:45 am

Ah nah, we don’t need to buy nuclear insurance. I think it’s one of our rights as Americans as per the Price-Anderson Act? On a related note, have been trying to think ahead here. One of my ideas is that if you ever need to evacuate your home and/or neighborhood/state, etc, have a plan with friends and family that allow you all to meet up somewhere. I was thinking — it may be a good idea to have a place far enough outside of your usual zone to drive to and to converge upon as a group if need be. My friends and family all live nearby, so having a common destination like that could be a worthwhile plan. What’s your disaster plan?

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