With the state of each new calamity proving worse than the last, it’s important to learn the basics of disaster preparedness
The Philippines’ location and its being a biodiverse archipelago are just some of the things that make it a beautiful country. It’s for these reasons, too, that it is susceptible to natural disasters that are only made worse, slowly but surely, by global warming.
In the past two years alone, Filipinos have dealt with the wrath of nature: the unexpected eruption of the Taal Volcano, a series of earthquakes and typhoons (Odette being the most recent). These events have greatly affected millions.
Given that disasters can strike at any time, disaster preparedness is key. Ahead, a guide to catch you up on the basics.
Disaster Preparedness 101: Before the Disaster
Take note of emergency hotlines
Keep important emergency contacts at the ready, making accessible to you and your family the contact numbers you can input into your phone directories along with physical copies you can tack up on your fridge or file away in communal areas of the house. Visit the Philippine government’s website for a list of emergency hotlines.
If you anticipate that you will require assistance, these emergency services should be able to extend aid.
Locate the nearest evacuation centers
Find out the location of the evacuation centers nearest you. Just as well, look into your city’s emergency protocols to see if there are designated safe zones in your area.
Conduct a home inspection
Assess your space to find any potential and existing hazards inside and outside your house. If, for example, a big storm is reported to arrive in a few days, checking your roof for leaks and trimming the branches of trees in close proximity to your home and any powerlines surrounding it will help you stay safe at home.
Prepare an emergency kit
In the worst-case scenario that someone gets injured or that you need to evacuate, keeping a backpack already loaded with the essentials will make things easier. Prepare spare clothes, cash, food, water and a first aid kit.
Brush up on the different alert systems
Unfortunately, a number of people end up underestimating the impact of a natural disaster (and this failure to prepare ultimately can catch people off guard). Being aware of the severity of an upcoming disaster will help better inform your plan of action accordingly. Here’s what you need to know:
|Typhoon Signal Warnings|
Signal No. 1
Signal No. 2
Signal No. 3
|Signal No. 4|
Winds: 171–200 KPH
Wave height: more than 14m
|Signal No. 5|
Winds: more than 200 KPH
Wave height: more than 14m
|Volcanic Monitoring Levels|
Alert Level 1
|Alert Level 2|
Increased shaking and gas emission
Alert Level 3
|Alert Level 4|
Intense shaking and frequent ash explosions
Alert Level 5
|Earthquake Intensity Levels||Intensity Scale 1|
Felt by people under specific circumstances
Intensity Scale 2
|Intensity Scale 3|
Felt by people in upper building floors
|Intensity Scale 4|
Felt by some people indoors and outdoors
Intensity Scale 5
|Intensity Scale 6|
Causes fear and imbalance in people
Intensity Scale 7
Causes difficulty in standing on upper floors
Intensity Scale 8
Difficult to stand indoors and outdoors
Intensity Scale 9
Buildings are completely damaged
Intensity Scale 10
Landslides and total damage to all structures
During the Disaster
Remain in your designated safe zone until further notice
Regardless of what natural disaster it might be, do not leave your safe zone until officials say otherwise. Doing so may expose you to harm that could potentially be a matter of life and death.
Stay up-to-date with the news
Tune in to the news to gather real-time information on what’s happening outside your home and around you. Listening to the radio or connecting to a GoWiFI network at your evacuation center will allow you to assess the situation and prepare for anything else that might arise.
After the Disaster
Attend to your loved ones and check for any injuries
Carefully check if any family member has sustained injuries such as cuts, fractures or head trauma. Use an emergency kit to help dress basic wounds and call an ambulance for more serious injuries.
Secure all your valuables
After the disaster hits, make sure you secure all your valuables. Having your phone and some cash on hand will make it easier for you to contact loved ones and purchase supplies in case ATMs are unavailable.
Get in touch with your insurance providers
Contact your insurance providers immediately if your home or other notable belongings were damaged during the disaster. Doing so will help you recover from any financial losses you’ve incurred.
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