Tuesday, March 22, 2011

have a disaster preparedness kit

Consecutive disasters have a way of sobering us up. Just within the span of a few weeks there has been quakes in New Zealand and Japan - the latter followed by a monster tsunami - and yesterday there was a magnitude 5 right here in the Philippines.

Considering we're in the Pacific Ring of Fire, it isn't unlikely that we'd experience another one. I really, really hope it isn't anything big, but that really isn't something anyone can control. If it happens, it happens, and it would be wise to be prepared. I mean, not just for a quake or a tsunami, but for any calamity - whether it be a fire, a political upheaval or another massive flood like the one in Metro Manila in '09.

Useful Tip # 1: Be Informed

Know the possible events that can occur in your area. Get to know if your place is fire-prone, accident-prone, flood-prone and so on, then make a plan that applies. Research about the fault line around your hometown and see if your house is sitting just along it.

Here in Manila, I suppose the thing we most often worry about are typhoons and floods, and recently we were reminded of the Marikina Fault Line. We at least don't need to concern ourselves with volcanoes and hurricanes, and we're relatively safe from terrorist takeovers.

It may also be beneficial to know what's going on in neighboring countries - e.g., knowing there have been massive earthquakes in the Ring of Fire recently, we could start getting ready for another one, even perhaps expect some volcanic activity nearby. If you happen to be an OFW in the Middle East, it would be good to be constantly updated about the political climate.

Useful Tip # 2: Make a Plan

Whether at home or at the workplace, know where the exits are and consider the quickest way/s to evacuate. Consider where you can head for shelter, acquire supplies and so on; arrange where you can meet your loved ones in case you get separated.

Have a fire extinguisher, a first-aid kit and emergency lamps; put them in easily accessible places. Have a list of emergency numbers by your phone

Consider the SOPs - What do you do during a quake? Is it better to run outside, or stay indoors under a stable piece of furniture? What do you do during a fire? When are flood levels considered unsafe? What do you take with you? What do you do with the children, the pets and so on?

Share the plan with everyone in your household, including the helpers and the children. It may be good to assign roles, such as, Wifey will be in charge of the children and emergency supplies, Hubby will take care of grabbing the important documents, Manang will call for help, etc.

Useful Tip # 3: Make a Pre-Packed Disaster Preparedness / Easy Evacuation Kit

Have a duffel bag or travel bag exclusively for this purpose. It should be pre-packed and stowed where it can easily be grabbed at the instance of an emergency. Keep it stocked regularly and update the items that may expire. You might also want to have an extra kit for your workplace, car or school locker.

What to put inside:
  • Drinking water
  • Canned / dried food
  • Utility knife or pocket knife (with a can opener for the food)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and first aid book
  • Medicine, including prescriptions taken by your family members [I recently read news about a diabetic child in Japan who survived the calamities but is now suffering in an evacuation center because he didn't have his insulin. :( ]
  • Full change of clothes for each person - include undies, a jacket and long pants
  • Blanket or towel
  • Toiletries and hygiene supplies
  • Candles and matches - place in a waterproof container
  • Plastic plates and utensils
  • Cash
  • Whistle - can be used to call for help in case you are trapped

You might also want to include:
  • Sleeping bag
  • Cell phone charger
  • Spare eyeglasses
  • Radio
  • Slippers
  • Plastic bags
  • Important documents
  • Fire extinguisher
  • If you have babies or toddlers - supplies such as diapers, formula, etc.
  • If you have pets - extra water, pet food, old newspaper
  • Reading material
  • Paper and writing instruments

Useful Tip # 4: Have Relief Goods on Standby

If you happen to be one of the lucky survivors, don't forget the people who aren't so fortunate.
If you haven't been hit so hard by disaster as to lose your home, think about those who were - send aid.

Useful Tip #5: Pray

The thing about disasters is that they aren't in our control - we're each just a small part of a way bigger world, which in turn is just a speck in an even vaster universe. It's hopeful and energizing to know you can trust in a God that is bigger than the universe.

Prayer won't necessarily prevent bad things from happening, but it will prepare your heart for whatever lies ahead.

Be safe, everyone!