“Disaster can strike anyone at any time. It could be me tonight.”
– Amy Gabriel, Blogger, Poet and Columnist
PAG-ASA will announce this week that summer has ended and officially declare that the rainy season has started.
But, it is disconcerting to see communities and individuals being ravaged by flood waters in Mindanao and in the Province of Iloilo as the summer season comes to an end.
As the rainy season starts, we will always remember the devastation brought about by typhoon “Ondoy” in 2009 in the National Capital Region as well as the destruction caused by typhoon “Pablo” last year in Easter Mindanao.
As the summer season leave us, you have to ask yourself: Am I ready for another season of severe weather? Is my community better prepared for the onslaught of harsh monsoon season in the Philippines this year?
There are several easy steps to make you and your family be better prepared for any impending disaster, not only caused by floods but by any natural calamities or acts of God.
First, I would suggest keeping in a safe and dry place the important documents of you and your family. Examples of these documents are certificates of live birth, marriage certificate, passports, bank books, insurance policies (life and non-life), certificates of investment, school and employment records as well as other documents that you consider important.
If you have a safe place in the house that can remain dry if your house gets flooded then place all these documents there. Otherwise, you may want to consider putting all these documents in a safety deposit box of a bank, if you can afford it.
Furthermore, you may want to digitize (scanning) all these documents and saving them in your computer (desktop or laptop) or in a DVD. Or better yet, store them online in the cloud. Do this now.
Second, prepare an emergency bag for you and your family. A first aid kit is a mandatory and must be included in the emergency bag. Maintenance medication should also be included in the first aid kit apart from the normal medical supplies and medicines.
Then you must have one or several flash lights, a mobile phone charger, prepared food and snacks (that are ready to eat, but not limited to canned goods), change of clothes for you and the children, if you have any. Do this at once.
The idea is to prepare and pack everything in a bag that can be picked up and carried in a moment’s notice. Time is of the essence when you have water coming inside your house. You have no time to choose these items and put everything in a bag.
Third, if you have to evacuate and leave the house make sure that you have turned off the electricity to the house. Before you leaving, make sure all doors and windows are locked and secured.
Remember to bring your laptop, tablet, mobile phone, money, ATM cards and credit cards. You need to communicate with your other relatives to let them know that you and your family are safe.
If you will not leave the house and wait for the flood waters to recede, it is also necessary to unplug the electrical appliances as you turn off the electrical supply of the house from the main switch. In addition, if you are unable to leave the house, make sure that you have food that will tide you and your family over for 2 to 3 days.
Fourth, make sure you know the evacuation routes or evacuation plan of your community. This must be done in coordination with the Homeowners Association officials and the local disaster management and risk reduction officials.
The officers and members of the Board of the HOA should take the lead in assessing the needs of its community prior, during and after a disaster (like flood), and how it will affect its members. They should prepare a plan and coordinate the same with the disaster management officials of their local government unit.
Natural calamities are now common place in the Philippines. We must do our best to prepare ourselves and our community for any eventuality. Planning for such occurrences is now of paramount importance.
Government cannot do it alone. We must all act to help ourselves, our family, our neighbors and our community. Check with your HOA officials if there is a disaster management plan in place.
If there is none, then its time to prepare one.