Many have been said and written about what to do when a disaster strikes. It has been said that prevention is always better than the cure. Although we may not prevent earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, typhoons from happening, we can always prepare for them. This is the reason why I wrote about Disaster Preparedness in the household level. Many thanks to the following for their contribution to the article- Kuya Robert Erfe-Mejia, Mja Bayle, Dave Paragas, Maite Quesada and Tin Tin Babao.
Here is my Philippine Online Chronicles article:
Don’t be scared; be prepared.
This admonition, sound as it is, is easier said than done. Who wouldn’t be scared with the current disasters that hog the headlines? These are headlines about the earthquakes, floods, tsunamis that seem like doomsday stories: Australia's Queensland faces 'biblical' flood; New Zealand earthquake: 65 dead in Christchurch; Death toll in Japan quake, tsunami surpasses 10,000 and At least 75 killed in Myanmar earthquake.
In the Philippines, the more recent disasters have been caused by floods and typhoons. Fresh in our minds are the lethal floods in Bicol and Isabela. Not too long ago were devastations and deaths caused by Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng. But the recent earthquakes and the possible tsunami are the ones now terrifying Pinoys. Instead of being afraid and stressed out from worrying, we should learn from the disasters and prepare for whatever might happen.
Dagupan City after the 1990 Earthquake
It has been 20 years since the July 16, 1990 Luzon earthquake but the magnitude of destruction and number of fatalities continue to haunt the memories of those who experienced the seismic disaster. Who can forget an earthquake which caused deaths totaling to an estimated 1,621 people? The earthquake was one of the deadliest and costliest natural disasters in the Philippines.
I was a senior high school student in Dagupan City when the 1990 earthquake happened. My classmates and I were in the third floor of the Mother Goose Special Science High School building when the earthquake shook us like we were sardines in a crumpled can. Luckily for us, the building did not collapse or sink like the other buildings in the city. But chaos was everywhere. I fetched my younger cousins from their schools and we walked for kilometers as we braved the aftershocks, petrifying road cracks where water oozed and the horrifying scene of sunken establishments because of liquefaction. One of Dagupan’s bridges split into halves like a crisp soda cracker. Deaths caused by the killer quake could have been minimized if the structural integrity of buildings was frequently checked. People should have been calm and alert so that stampedes and accidents were avoided. Preparedness could’ve spelled a big difference between life and death.
Safety begins at home so I interviewed Dagupan City’s Public Order and Safety Office and City Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council Chief, Robert Erfe-Mejia to know what to do for disaster preparedness at the household level. Here are prescriptions he gave:
- Appoint a Safety Officer in the family. There is a need to have someone who will be in-charge of everyone’s safety in case of a disaster or an emergency. Someone who will not panic and lead the members of the family to the safe areas and be responsible to conduct first aid as well as decide for the welfare of the family. There should be at least two appointed safety officers just in case one is not around or if the other is injured or not capable to perform the duty. The safety officer could be the father, mother, one of the children, the kasambahay or the trusted house help.
- Structural integrity of the house should be examined and checked regularly. This is important in preempting possible destruction that could cause serious injuries or even death. Repairs and reinforcements should be immediately made to ensure that the house can withstand disasters or at least minimize ill effects to the household in case of disasters.