On average, the Philippines is visited by around 20 typhoons a year or tropical cyclones. In the last few years, we experienced super typhoons that wreaked havoc islands, cities and towns– leaving thousands homeless, crippled and suffering. The most devastating of which was Typhoon Haiyan ( Super Typhoon Yolanda), with death toll in tens of thousands and billions worth of property damage. Surviving a typhoon is a normal scenario in a Filipino’s life.
Unpreparedness is the last thing you want when facing a storm comparable to Haiyan, named Yolanda back then, when it tore through eastern Visayas.
Next super typhoon as accounted by weather bureaus was Typhoon Hagupit, bearing the name Ruby when it entered PAR. Its course was similar to Yolanda’s, causing extreme fear among the survivors in Eastern Visayas. The same power was unleashed but it didn’t grow as strong and extremely damaging as Haiyan, dubbed as the strongest and among the most destructive in history.
Despite the bad things and the onslaught brought by typhoons, we can prevent the worst things from happening by making ourselves prepared, procuring the right supplies, arming ourselves with the right protection and steeling ourselves with information about the upcoming storm.
Fortunately, as of today, getting a hold of those information is easy. We have the tv, radios and most of all, the internet. Aside from the necessary information, we also need to put aside some important things as well.
Things to prepare BEFORE THE TYPHOON
These things will be essential for us during and after the storm passes.
The wellbeing of your family and yourself comes first above all else. Having these kits will prepare you for the worst to come. The kits should carry the necessary first aid essentials like antiseptic, bandages, medicines (for colds, fever, etc.) and more. You should also keep in those kits emergency cash, flashlights and extra batteries, fully charged cellphones and whistles or something that would catch the attention of someone.
Storing food away during these times is a must. Tacloban, one of the cities seriously hit by Yolanda back then, became a no man’s land because of the uncontrollable chaos and anarchical circumstances that transpired. And one of the root causes was food shortage. Just in case, you should prepare canned goods, noodles or any food that would last long enough for establishments near your area to open their stores again.
This is also one of the most essential things that you should be storing beforehand. After a storm passes, water pipes could get damaged resulting in the contamination of water. Storing these would reduce the risks of your family getting health problems. You can use the water for cleaning or cooking purposes.
Electrical lines are more likely to get cut off than not during storms. Despite the possible constraint, you need to make sure you can keep in touch with the outside world.
Keep your mobile phones charged just in case you need it for emergency calls and such. Smartphones can also connect via net or radio so you can keep up with the latest happenings despite the loss of power – their batteries dry quicker compared to the old fashioned ones though, so keep a few fully charged spares in store just in case.
If you can have power charges as many as you think you can afford, then that would help you in re-energizing the battery life of your smartphones and even feature phones.
A Change of Clothes
If you’re moving out of your house into an evacuation center, make sure you’re bringing a few spare clothes with you. You’ll get wet easily during those times, and staying on wet clothing is potentially hazardous to your health.
A small variety of flashlights should be included in your emergency kits. A bigger variation of these artificial lights should be acquired to provide the necessary lighting during darker days where electric lines are cut off.
Flashlights are very useful in traversing the roads or indoors, especially when the sun goes down and the electricity still hasn’t gone up.
Candles can also be used but refrain from using them if you can – a careless act with these can easily burn a house.
Money will always be essential tool for you. So always store that you’ll only use for these kind of situations. They can be a real life-saver. Question is how much? If you have millions that you can store inside a vault safely placed in your house, then that would come very handy. But, of course, that’s possible for the affluent people.
Seriously, recommended amount of cash for emergency use, especially during calamities, would be equal to two month’s salary.
You never could anticipate what happens during a storm. There’s one thing for sure though – unless we move out of its way, there’s no way we can avoid it. Not many people can do that, and for those left with the option to weather the storm, the only thing we can do is brace ourselves and hope for the best. There will be damages. But if we prepare ourselves beforehand, we can somehow alleviate it and recover quickly.
- Prepare some canned food or anything that won’t go spoiled for days. Along with that, store some drinking water as well. You might have to live on without any food supplies for days after the storm.
- Always have a general knowledge about the terrain in your home. Plan a meeting place beforehand with your family, in case you’ll get separated.
- Identify your residence if it’s near a dam. If yes, then determine the potential hazard where you’re staying. You must plan an exit strategy in the event of overflow.
- Learn the locations of the evacuation centers of your community and how to get to them.
- Fasten your roof of your house to make sure they won’t get picked up by the storm. Use something heavy to pin them down or bind them with ropes to do so.
- Cover your windows, especially if they’re made of glass. Use wooden boards to do so.
- Big trees in the proximity of your house should be trimmed down to lessen their chances of being brought down by the storm.
- Clean the gutters to reduce flooding.
- Any equipment or tools left outside the house should be brought inside – don’t leave anything scattered outside.
- For houses with garage house, close it and reinforce it to make sure it doesn’t get opened by the storm.
- If you’re living in a high-rise building, go and stay at least below the 10th floor of that building.
- If you live near the sea or river, evacuate your homes immediately and find a center to stay.
- If you’re planning on leaving your house, make sure it’s secured – aside from the coming storm, you also need to watch out for theft.
PRECAUTION: Every potential object found outside during a storm is also a potential projectile bound to hit someone.
What to do DURING the Typhoon
When you feel the winds starting to pick up, along with heavy rainfall, that could only mean your unwelcome guest has arrived.
Here’s what you need to do when it does happen.
- Keep your eyes and ears open. Anything could happen in an instant. Always be updated with the latest happenings by listening to the news on the radio or TV.
- Don’t go outside unless you need to evacuate or an emergency situation has happened.
- Secure your home and turn off your appliances. Turn of your LPG tanks as well.
- Save the batteries on your phone for emergency calls.
Evacuate your home or location in the following situations:
- If the local authorities have urged you (and even arranged a rescue team for you) to evacuate.
- If your home structure is weak (e.g made from light materials) and is easily susceptible to being blown away by the winds.
- If you live in a high-rise building.
- If you live near a body of water (e.g sea, river) or a place that easily gets flooded.
If you can’t evacuate, here’s what you need to do:
- Never go out or near a window until the storm subsides.
- Keep your windows closed at all times – winds may temporarily die down, but it could be because the eye of the storm just passed through your area.
- Avoid staying on the higher levels of your house.
- Lie under a sturdy object – a hard table for instance.
- Steer away from using the elevators.
If you are in Cebu, here are the Emergency Contact Details
What to do AFTER the Typhoon
Here’s what you need to do right after the storm subsides.
- Keep listening to the latest news on the radio and TV. If no electricity, make sure your radio has enough batteries.
- Watch out for continued rains and flooding – they may still persist despite the storm being gone.
- If you’ve gotten separated with your family, make sure to remember your meeting plans and meet at the desired place. You can also call them if they have their phones with them.
- If you’re staying in a shelter, ask the local officials first if it’s safe to go back to your homes.
- When walking through the roads, watch out for broken poles and electric lines – these can get pretty hazardous especially on a wet or on a flooded road.
- Inspect your house to see if there are any damages. Try to look out for broken gas pipes or exposed power lines – if you see any of these two, keep away from them and immediately call the companies servicing them.
- Use flashlights and not candles – the latter can easily start a fire in these situations.
- Watch out for your surroundings. You may have some unexpected visitors on your backyard in the form of snakes and other potentially dangerous animals.
- Check your stored food and only use water you stored beforehand when cooking – tap water may be contaminated.
- Refrain from using a generator (if you have one) inside the house – if can store up carbon monoxide which can be potentially fatal to one’s health when inhaled.