Earthquakes used to be something remote for 33-year-old Cao Lili – that is until she saw on TV what had happened in Sichuan Province on May 12. On one hand, she had been shedding tears and praying for the victims. On the other, she was collecting knowledge on how to survive in quakes.
"I'm surprised to find sometimes it's wrong to hide under desks as we have been told. We should seek shelter in triangle areas – space possibly formed by the falling ceiling, the floor and the hard objects like a wall, bed or tables," says the English teacher in Longkou, Shandong Province, thousands of kilometers away from Sichuan. "I'm passing the information on to my students."
The earthquake shook an area about 100,000 sq km involving 27.92 million people, the size of some European countries, figures from the Sichuan provincial government show.
The death toll has risen to nearly 70,000 with almost 20,000 still missing, and the figures are updated on a daily basis.
Despite the tragedy, the earthquake has improved public awareness about natural disasters. A survey carried out by China Youth Daily and Sohu.com shows that among 4,309 respondents, about 61 percent say they will learn more about rescue knowledge and prepare first aid tools at home.
The quake also reshapes people's habits, for example, in apartment purchases. "The TV says buildings made of concrete frames will be relatively safe, while those with pre-cast concrete slabs can not stand big quakes," Cao says. She felt assured when finding out her apartment belonged to the relatively quake-resistant type.
More clients are asking salesmen "what levels of earthquake can the building stand" before buying an apartment.
"The big quake influenced the purchasers' psyche. They put construction quality first, instead of price, location, age or accessory facilities," says Zhang Yujing, a saleswoman at a high-rise in Jinan, Shandong Province. "They favor the middle and lower floors, while in the past those above 11 floors were most popular due to wide views and good ventilation."