Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Growing up in Washington State I learned in first grade how to "duck and cover" under my desk at school in the event of an earthquake.  I've seen the "tsunami evacuation route" signs along the southern Washington coast. Returning from Bali just a month before the big tsunami hit, and visiting Thailand this past December, I saw how important knowledge of these routes can be.  In Michigan, I adapted to the 1st Saturday monthly 1pm tornado alarms that ran for about five minutes, and once followed the TV news guidance to get in my basement per a warning for our area in Royal Oak. 

Today, I experienced a new kind of drill.  Israel runs safety drills several times a year in various parts of the country, as a matter of course to keep the public alert.  Last night we received a notice in the hotel explaining that today at 11am, sirens would go off across the entire country as part of a 24 hour military drill, in which they were asking the public to take part by proceeding to their bunkers for 10 minutes.  Apparently Israeli's, while they take security seriously, don't take these drills too seriously.  We were at the accountant's office when it went off, and continued our meeting after a slight acknowledgement of the siren.

Bunkers, you ask?  Yes, all buildings are required by law to have them.  Each apartment we have viewed has had one.  It comes with a large, thick door, and has reinforced walls, even thicker than the foot thick concrete construction of the rest of the buildings.  Interestingly, many of these bunkers have windows that are reinforced.  They show up in apartments as closets, small spare rooms, pantries, laundry rooms, etc.

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