Emergency Preparedness in Taiwan – P2

A Brief Guide in Three Parts

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Last month, we talked about how to make the decision whether to shelter in place or to “bug out” – relocate to a safer location. This month, we take a look at a few things you need to consider if the decision is to leave the country.
Plans for evacuating back to your home country, or another, neutral location, is much better made well in advance. Leaving when the going’s good – rising tensions, but flights are still operating and people are not in panic mode yet – is obviously the best option.
Be aware that a last-ditch military evacuation should be your LAST resort. Besides the drama and panic that might be accompanied by, the word is that Uncle Sam might well send you a hefty bill if you ignored advice to get out under your own steam.




Evacuation to Home Country

  • Takeover/collapse seems imminent
  • Evacuation means/transportation is available
  • Airport can be reached reasonably safely
  • Westerners are specifically targeted

If airport is operating, access roads are open, and evacuation flights are arriving/leaving:

  • Prepare the GPS location of your house and 1 or two alternative pickup points
  • Join LINE/Signal groups for info
  • Keep passport and cash on your person at all times
  • Gather family/fellow evacuees
  • Communicate with family in home country
  • Communicate with home country representatives in Taiwan
  • Convert everything possible to cash.
  • Sell car & arrange to leave at airport with keys, or use it to barter safe passage
  • Distribute cash amongst family members in case of being separated/robbed
  • Keep comms open – cellphone, FM radio, walkie-talkie
  • Destroy personal/sensitive documents
  • LEAVE every “thing” that can be replaced (and that’s EVERYTHING).
  • Give house keys to someone or consider storing valuables with people who are staying and can forward on to you – but remember everyone is under stress
  • Carry a hard drive/USB with personal ID docs and photos, also in cloud-based storage.
  • Deal with pets. Almost 100% Fluffy cannot fly with you if you leave it to the last minute.
  • Figure out safe route, get to airport and be prepared to wait till a flight arrives
  • Prepare the GPS location of your house and 1 or two alternative pickup points.


Pack ONE backpack per person

  • Wallet: ID/Passport/Credit cards/Cash
  • Phone
  • Meds specific to any condition you may have
  • Vest with pockets
  • Warm clothes
  • Scarf
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen/ Lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect cream/ repellant
  • Phone charger + cable + power bank/s
  • Pen/Notebook
  • Masks
  • Lighter
  • Change of socks/ underwear x 2
  • Feminine hygiene
  • Toilet tissue/WetWipes
  • Travel toiletries kit:
  • Toothbrush, soap, shampoo, small towel
  • Water bottle/filter
  • High-calorie snacks (chocolate nuts, trail mix, biscuits, fruit, crackers.)
  • Meds General (Diarrhea, antacid, pain/ fever, vitamins, motion sickness, Band-aids)
  • Blowup pillow/eye mask
  • Book to read/Kindle/Tablet
  • Small Umbrella
  • Ziploc bags


Warning Signs are Mounting” Prep:


  • Call family/trusted group together and strategize
  • Purchase flight tickets if evacuating – before prices go through the roof
  • Arrange visas as required for countries other than your passport country
  • Activate SATPhone if you have one
  • Charge ALL devices to capacity.
  • Update personal documents on USB and on OneDrive
  • Maintenance on car
  • Bicycle rack on car
  • Roof carrier on car
  • Repack all bags/bins & make inventory
  • Take stuff to bug-out spot and store (in watertight/airtight containers)
  • Stock up cash
  • Arrange automatic payments of cell phone etc.
  • Make sure credit cards are paid.
  • Compile and share first aid/trauma kits with loved ones.
  • Share comms devices
  • Stay up to date on reliable news sources
  • Activate group chat on secure channels like SIGNAL or Telegram.

To Buy:

  • Food and necessities supply for 3 months
  • Additional medical supplies
  • Gasoline
  • Camping gas
  • Potable water
  • Toilet paper

Military Attack

This is the “big dog” of disaster scenarios, and people have widely varying views on whether it will happen and what it will look like if it does.
Let us look at four possible forms of attack and their implications.


If Taiwan is placed under a naval and aerial blockade, no ships or aircraft could enter or leave the island without permission from the PLA. Business operations would be affected. Common goods such as food, medicines, gas, and household items would see supply restricted. Together with panic buying, that would mean shortages. However, it is LIKELY that at such a time, FOREIGNERS WILL BE ALLOWED TO FLY OUT. It is in fact in the enemy’s interest to get foreign nationals and non-combatants out of the way.


Ballistic and cruise missile attacks, as well as electromagnetic weapon attacks, on military, government, communications, utilities, and transportation infrastructure would cause widespread destruction, building collapses, fires – and multiple casualties.


During a military attack, the enemy could also use misinformation attacks – “weaponized fake news” – aimed at causing confusion or panic. These could involve social media, radio, and Internet messages and broadcasts.


A full invasion would see battles being fought on the island of Taiwan, as amphibious and airborne PLA troops intended to secure beachheads to begin transferring the 100s of thousands of soldiers and support personnel required to occupy the island. The attack would come in waves: first strategic strikes, then a campaign to achieve air superiority, followed by an actual invasion. There would be sabotage operations taking place in Taiwan, as well as a global propaganda and fake news campaign. This scenario could see fierce battles with high rates of damage to people and property. Many places around the island would be intensely unsafe from deliberate and accidental use of weapons. Basic services could be reduced to zero for weeks or even months if the battles raged on.

tobie openshaw

Tobie Openshaw is a South African documentary filmmaker/photographer based in Taipei. He experienced the 9/21 earthquake of 1999 and produced eyewitness reports on disasters such as Typhoons Morakot and Soudelor, and the Tainan apartment building collapse of 2016. He is a founder of the Taiwan Disaster Preparedness/Civil Resilience – 台灣防災準備/公民韌性 on Facebook. 

(Tune in next month for some EMERGENCY EVACUATION PLANS)

Emergency Preparedness in Taiwan

Download printable PDF below

– Part 1

– Part 2

– Part 3

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