Saving Lives through Emergency Preparedness
Disasters and emergencies can come at any time, especially when we least expect it. According to the World Risk Index of 2018, the Philippines ranks third among all countries as the most vulnerable to risk. Being situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, and surrounded by major ocean bodies, we are highly vulnerable to the occurrences of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and typhoons.
Indeed, the Philippines has braved some of the most severe natural calamities that the world has seen; and it is from these stories that we learn the value of utmost preparedness for disaster.
Knowledge on what to do before an emergency can save lives and mitigate damage. Be properly equipped for disaster whether you’re at home or at the office with this checklist:
Examine your house or building, and check for unstable or deteriorating parts.
Your house serves as you and your family’s main protection in braving a calamity, and as such, it’s best to inspect it beforehand to ensure that it can withstand difficult conditions. Likewise, inspecting your office floor and building is also necessary so that you can communicate with management any building improvements which may have been overlooked.
Stay updated on the latest weather reports.
Awareness is one of the most important keys to emergency preparedness, and it requires proactive effort in knowing about predicted weather conditions, and whether there are any imminent threats within your area. While most natural calamities are unpredictable, typhoons are now easily detected and foreseen. This leaves us with the responsibility of being up to date with movements of the weather, especially if the area of our residence will be affected. Additionally, you can also see weather updates from different parts of the country, and up to two weeks with helpful apps such as the Weather Philippines App or its website, weatherph.org.
Store an adequate supply of food and clean water.
Even before any calamity arises, have the urgency of stocking up on food and water enough for you and the whole family. Similarly, you can also keep your own supplies reserved for emergencies at the office, in the event that you get stranded. Make sure that these are easy to prepare and do not expire quickly.
Prepare an emergency kit
In addition to your safety food and water supply, another survival essential is an emergency kit. The kit must include the following items: a signaling device or whistle, flashlights, a wind-up radio, batteries, fully-charged power banks, first aid kit, medicine for common ailments, toiletries, and blankets.
In your home, office, as well as in your mobile phone’s list of contacts, it’s also important to keep a list of the following emergency hotlines:
National Emergency Hotline in the Philippines: 911
Philippine National Police Hotline: 117 or (02) 722-0650
Philippine Red Cross: 143 or (02) 527-8385 to 95
Bureau of Fire Protection: (02) 426-0219 or (02) 426-3812
Hard copies of these numbers, as well as the contact details of your relatives and nearby hospital and police stations must also be kept at a visible place at all times.
Develop an evacuation and communication plan
To be ready for disaster is to have a visual map and strategy of how you will respond in times of an actual emergency. Many factors and potential scenarios must be considered, such as cellphone coverage being unavailable, or your family’s different whereabouts at a particular time, or one member of the family being a senior citizen. All these factors must be taken into consideration when developing an emergency plan. This will include setting up a specific and accessible meet-up place where you can meet each other once it is safe. Within offices, this includes the evacuation plan, where each person must comply in order to ensure everyone’s safety.
Disaster preparedness requires the community’s active awareness and cooperation. SM Cares is one with the advocacy of promoting emergency preparedness, especially for senior citizens and Persons with Disability (PWD). Part of its initiatives is the series Emergency Preparedness Forum for Senior Citizens and PWDs it conducts across different malls in the Philippines during July, which coincides with National Disaster Consciousness Month.