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July 29 2021

Disaster Preparedness Plan: What to Do in Case of an Emergency

Due to its geographical location, the Philippines has always been prone to typhoons during the Monsoon season. On average, there are around twenty (20) typhoons in a year, where at least five of them are considered severe and destructive. As a result, Filipinos often brace themselves during this season to prevent significant injuries and losses.
In 2013, typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) entered the country, causing over 6,000 deaths and nearly 20,000 injuries. The heavy rain also destroyed billions of pesos worth of agriculture and housing.
Being prepared and having the necessary resources on hand can significantly help make worst-case scenarios easier to handle. Depending on the type of disaster, these emergency plans may vary to increase the survival rate of an individual or group. But before anyone can begin preparations for these scenarios, they must first understand the possible problems.

Defining a Disaster

Natural disasters are commonly defined as catastrophic events from Earth’s natural processes that can cause significant damage to people and properties. In some cases, they also cost lives. These events originate from geological, atmospheric, and hydrological sources such as floods, typhoons, tsunamis, earthquakes, drought, landslides, forest fires, etc.

Common Natural Disasters in the Philippines

  • Earthquakes

The Philippines is prone to earthquakes due to its geographical location by the Pacific Ring of Fire. By definition, these natural phenomena occur when underground rocks and tectonic plates begin to move along a fault, which causes the ground to shake.
On average, the country experiences around twenty (20) earthquakes a day, varying in magnitude.
  • Floods

Floods are a common disaster that occurs during the rainy season in the country. This can put people and their families at risk if they are located in low-lying areas. When heavy rains persist, it can also damage agricultural lands, which may be difficult to recover from once the season has passed.
  • Typhoons

Typhoons are a common yet worrisome type of disaster that occurs in the Philippines. This natural phenomenon is often met with strong winds, heavy rains, and thunderstorms. During this time, electrical blackouts and water shortages are also expected, which can make living more difficult.
  • Volcanic eruption

The Philippines is surrounded by active volcanoes located on several islands. When these landforms erupt, they spew molten rocks, harmful volcanic gas, and ash. Inhaling large amounts of this ash is toxic to humans, leading to respiratory problems that make it difficult to breathe. Severe conditions can also lead to suffocation or even death.
In the event of a volcanic eruption, people should remain indoors and avoid opening doors or windows that allow ash to enter. Those who live in closer areas from the volcano are advised to evacuate to a safer location or shelter—far from a potentially deadly explosion until the volcanic activity no longer poses a threat.

What to Do in Case of an Emergency

  • Plan with the family for every specific disaster

Inform members of the family of the basic dos and don’ts when a natural disaster occurs. Teach them what they should do during certain events and learn what outcomes are expected.
  • Identify the risks

Individuals can prevent the risk of accidents and injuries by identifying the object or situations that can cause them. For instance, it is a must to be cautious of flying debris such as galvanized iron sheets during typhoons with strong winds.
  • Prepare an emergency kit

Basic emergency kits should include essential supplies such as food, water, flashlights, medicines, batteries, and whistles, among others. Some kits may also include basic first aid items to treat people in the event of an injury.
  • Locate evacuation areas and routes

Find the nearest emergency and evacuation centers in the area in case of dangerous natural disasters. Memorize directions to emergency facilities for a quick evacuation or have a map ready.
  • Have emergency numbers on speed dial

In the event of injuries caused by major disasters, be prepared to call emergency services immediately and seek out immediate help when it is most needed.
  • Prepare any necessary documents

Make extra copies of important documents such as birth certificates and IDs in case of fire. Store these in a safe place within the emergency kit to easily pick up and go during an emergency.
  • Wait for announcements

Always be updated with news, announcements, and weather reports during typhoons and earthquakes. It is best to stay informed of important notices and be more aware of their surroundings.
  • Avoid going outside

In case of typhoons and volcanic eruptions, avoid going out unless absolutely necessary. This ensures safety and security from possible dangers that are likely to happen when exposed to the elements.

Adapt and overcome

Natural disasters are hard to predict, particularly the outcomes, which is why citizens should always have an emergency plan and supplies ready. In the event of injuries, reach out to Makati Medical Center or the nearest emergency facility for proper medical treatment to increase the chances of survival.