This was originally posted in Coffee With Kim on 31 August 2012 | Updated on 11 January 2017
How To Be Prepared For Typhoon Season
After what happened in Typhoon Ondoy back in 2009, I assumed that people already know what to do when another calamity strikes. Unfortunately, it seems like people still have no idea what to do when the water level rises.
Since my husband works with the Bureau of Fire Protection and they conduct seminars about fire, earthquake and even flood emergencies in companies and barangays, I asked him about the basics for survival when such calamity happens. As the primary caretaker of our home and our children (because my husband is on duty during these times), I need to know–and you do too!
What do we need to prepare?
Even before heavy rainfall begins, it is important for every household to have a “Go Bag.” This bag needs to have the basic necessities you will need to survive for at least 72 hours.
- Water, one gallon per person per day
- Canned food with the easy-open feature
- Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit with the usuals plus any special medication a family member needs
- Dust mask
- Wrench or pliers
- Cellphone with charger
- Important documents, such as your I.D. with address, family picture, etc.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Swiss knife
- Money placed in a ziplock bag
Why do you need to pack 72 hours worth of goods? When a calamity hits an area, expect for the worst. Everyone is devastated — not just you — so expect that rescue and relief will not arrive right away. Furthermore, when heavy flooding occurs, rescuers will have a hard time penetrating certain areas. This is why you need a Go Bag.
When my husband and his team went to low-lying areas in Cainta, Rizal before a storm actually landed, people refused to evacuate. A lot of them insisted that the water level will not rise. A few hours later, the water level reached dangerous levels; trapping thousands of people in their homes. Once the water level reaches dangerous levels, rescue becomes very difficult. My husband told me that a lot of stranded people kept complaining about how long it took rescuers to fetch them or deliver relief goods.
Even before it started raining really hard, barangay officials in our area already started going around informing everyone to prepare for possible flooding. We do not live in a low-lying area so we were not asked to evacuate. However, if you live in a flood-prone area, you will be told by rescuers to evacuate. They have trucks with them to offer residents a ride. This is the time to grab your Go Bag and leave. Don’t be hard-headed. Officials will not tell you to leave your homes if you are not in danger!
I am a wife of a rescuer so I feel strongly about this part… Please note that rescuers are people too and they are no way near Superman. If it’s too dangerous in an area, they will need to halt rescue operations there. As for relief goods, note that relief goods are not usually delivered to individual homes. Rather, relief goods are taken to evacuation centers. Why? Evacuation centers are top priorities. With limited supplies and vehicles to transport goods, home deliveries are often not possible. So, please stop complaining. It really angered me when I saw people complaining that the government isn’t delivering goods to their homes. We are experiencing a calamity for crying out loud! If you evacuated, you wouldn’t starve to death. And where’s your Go Bag?
Q: We have rubber boats, right? Why not use those to deliver goods to homes?
A: Boats are for rescue operations, not for home delivery of goods. If you need supplies and the flood is not too high in your area, brave the flood! If the water is too high, call for rescue instead of complaining about starving to death. Rescuers will arrive in your home and will bring you to an evacuation center. (Note: Rescuers will not bring you wherever you want them to. There were some people requesting to be brought to Antipolo or Pasig. If you call for rescue, you will be brought to the nearest evacuation center in your area, nowhere else.)
This is not the time to be a spoiled brat. Remember, everyone is devastated and the rescuers need to prioritize those who are really in danger and in need of supplies. If you want to survive, do something — don’t just rely on rescuers and relief efforts.
We’re already stranded! What do we do?
If you were not able to evacuate, turn the power off then go to the highest point in your house. Be sure to bring all your basic needs there: clothes, food, water, etc. plus your Go Bag. Do not forget to tie a white piece of cloth in front of your house; this will signal rescuers that you need immediate help. If your phone is still working, call emergency assistance. Give your full name, address, contact number, how many people there are in your home, and if there is anyone in critical condition in need of immediate rescue.
Do not expect that rescuers will arrive right away, though. Note that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people calling for help. The top priorities of rescuers are the elderly, pregnant women, children and the ill. Be sure to inform them if you have any of those in your household.
When rescuers arrive, go with them right away. My husband told me that some people called for rescue, but then when they arrived, they would tell rescuers that they’ve decided to stay. This is a waste of time.
How do we know it’s safe to go down?
In most areas, the water level will go down as soon as the rain stops. We are lucky to have an efficient drainage system in our area so the water drained as soon as the rivers stabilized. It is already safe to go down by this time, but do not turn the electricity on just yet.
This is also the time to have yourself checked for illnesses. Dengue and Leptospirosis cases are very high in flood-hit areas.
- Prepare your Go Bag ahead of time.
- Evacuate when you are told to do so. No excuses.
- If you get stranded, go to the highest point in your home. Tie a white cloth in front of your house to signal rescuers that you need help.
- Don’t add to the problem — stop complaining.
If you were not devastated by the flood, make this an opportunity to help others! Assist in packing relief goods and offer to help in delivering the goods (if you have access to trucks or any high vehicles).