It’s the wet (and wetter) season again. If you have lived in the Philippines for at least a few years, you know that we get hit by storms, one after another, for half the year. According to PAGASA, we get an average of 18 cyclones a year, not counting the monsoon rains, thunderstorms, and inter-tropical convergent zones that bring us two of the most common concerns we have about weather: wind and rain. Most of us have just been winging it whenever a storm hits, so far. But there are certain things that you can prepare for. Here’s a checklist on what to do before, during, and after a storm.
“While emergencies are sometimes unavoidable, being prepared can prevent them from turning into full-blown disasters,” according to Prepare Manila (http://preparemanila.org). There is a long list of things you can do to prepare for an incoming storm, but you can start with these basics:
Stock up on supplies
PAGASA has gotten better in giving us a heads up when a storm is coming, so that should give us plenty of time to go out and buy supplies so we don’t have to get out during it.
To get weather forecasts on Twitter, follow: PAGASA-DOST (@dost_pagasa), Philippine Weather (@WeatherWatchPH), and PH Weather Portal (@PanahonNgayon)
Have a GO (Get Out) Bag
According to the Philippine Red Cross, “Each person should be prepared to be self-reliant and able to survive for at least three days following a disaster.” In case you need to get out of your house in a hurry, make sure you have a sturdy backpack with essentials good for the next 72 hours for each person in your home: water, food (better if no-cook), clothes, extra money, and supplies (dynamo flashlights and AM/FM radio, first-aid kit, medicines). If you can get your hands on a water filter, get one for your GO Bag.
Charge your cellphones and portable charger
You can’t live without your cellphone now. They are even more important in an emergency. Have emergency numbers saved in your phone directory, be it a relative from out of town who is not affected by storm, or the national emergency numbers.
National Emergency Hotline: 911 or 112
Philippine National Police: 117 or 168
Bureau of Fire Protection: (02) 426-0219, (02) 426-3812, (02) 426-0246
MMDA: 136, 882-4150-77 loc. 337 (rescue)
National Disaster and Risk Management Control: 911-5061 to 65
Know where the nearest evacuation center is located
Hopefully you won’t need this information, but it’s better to know in case you need to evacuate immediately. Every municipality and city has assigned evacuation centers, make sure you know where yours are.
Once the storm hits, your options become drastically limited. Stay alert, stay indoors, and know when it’s time to evacuate.
Unless you really have to go out, stay indoors in a safe place. You might get hit by flying debris outside.
Evacuate before it’s too late
If you live in flood-prone areas, you would need to evacuate before the flood waters become unmanageable. Know beforehand up to what level the flood waters should be before you evacuate.
Don’t get hit
“Should you find yourself outside during the storm, pay attention to all sides to avoid getting hit by flying debris,” advises Noel Ison, Jr., security, safety, and emergency response specialist of Alpha 3. “Keep your distance from any structure that could get toppled by strong winds. Try to avoid wading in the flood in case of live wires in the water.”
Check your home for damage
When it’s safe to get out, look around your house to see and assess the damage.
Stay out of trouble
Keep clear of damaged buildings, toppled trees and electrical wires. Don’t go driving around affected areas unless you really have to.
If you are fortunate to live in an area that wasn’t affected by storm, look for ways to help out through local relief efforts for areas and communities that were severely hit by the storm.