Don’t follow the advice I won’t give

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)


I suppose it should come as no surprise that once again, that “triangle of life” email is doing the rounds following an earthquake.

Every time there’s a sizeable quake here in New Zealand, this email pops up.

Unlike a certain television presenter, I’m not going to claim that I’m getting all wound up over the scaremongering that goes hand-in-hand with this email while actually offering up the information that I believe is so very wrong as I yell loudly at some poor sod I’ve invited to explain the concept. Because that would be scaremongering to get ratings, wouldn’t it?

But I digress. Back to that stupid email and its discredited content.

If there is an earthquake, the good people at Civil Defence have some well-considered advice on what you should do: drop, cover and hold.

And it’s not just New Zealand earthquake experts who say this is the best advice, it’s the advice of those in the know around the world.

Except for the bloke who keeps popping up in the oft-quoted triangle of life emails. He gives such opposing advice that agencies such as Civil Defence here in New Zealand and the United States Geological Survey have been forced to respond to his unfounded claims.

But that doesn’t mean the emails stop coming. No, they are forwarded on by people who claim they are well-meaning.

And sadly, every time an official agency responds to the claims it gives them even more publicity.

Yes. I know that’s what I’m doing right now.

However, I won’t link to the email or discuss its content because over and over again I see links on message boards online to the sites that discredit the email with excited comments by the posters about this radical new advice.

That’s because people don’t always read the entire article they’ve linked to. They somehow manage to miss the parts that say the advice is dangerous.

If you ever get an email claiming to offer the best advice on how to survive an earthquake, warning of people lurking in supermarket car parks with fake perfume to knock you out or some other bizarre tale of woe, do some research before you pass it on and perpetuate the myth.


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