Up until this day, there is no available technology in the world that can predict when exactly an earthquake’s going to happen. And the recent temblor that rattled the country serves a reminder for every household to be prepared for when the 7.2-magnitude earthquake, or the “Big One” strikes.
The Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology says the 100-kilometer West Valley Fault, which cuts through various areas in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, is ripe for movement. If it does happen, experts say Metro Manila could run out of food and water for a week, and communication lines could be cut off. The best time to prepare is yesterday, and if you haven’t prepared the family yet, the next best time is today.
Make a plan
Create a family emergency situation plan. First, determine a meeting place in the event that members of the household get separated. Familiarize the family of the evacuation plan in your area.
Then, develop an emergency communication plan that does not solely rely on cellular phone. Download mobile apps that can be used even when cellular networks are down, such as Firechat, which uses an ad hoc network by combining the signal of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Leaving notes on the wall of the house also helps the family determine where the other members are headed.
Keep emergency hotlines of vital government agencies during disasters.
National Emergency Hotline: 911
NDRRMC: 911-5061 to 65
Red Cross: 143
California Academy of Sciences recommend checking for any signs of structural defects or hazards at home: fasten shelves and other furniture and appliances securely to wall, place large or heavy objects on lower shelves, store breakable items and flammable products in closed cabinets with latches, hang heavy items away from anywhere where people sit, brace overhead light fixtures, repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections, and repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations.
Homeowners can also assess their house’s structural integrity using the DOST-PHIVOLCS 12-point checklist “How Safe is My House.”
Prepare ‘go bags’
Each member of the household should have their own “go bag” or emergency kit. The Department of Interior and Local Government – National Capital Region recommends a go bag must contain at least 15 liters of water per person, non-perishable and ready-to-eat meals enough for at least 72 hours up to preferably two weeks, emergency first aid kit (bandage, adhesive tape, cotton balls and cotton swabs, antiseptic solution, petroleum jelly, scissors and tweezers, medicines, etc.), important documents (birth certificate, identification cards, etc.), portable battery-powered radio, flashlight and whistle, fully charged power bank and extra batteries, and a few clothes.
Learn lifesaving skills
Every household should have at least one member who is trained on Basic Life Support – First Aid, use of fire extinguisher, and other lifesaving skills. Educate family members on basic first aid.
Practice ‘drop, cover, and hold’
Practice “drop, cover, and hold” with family members. Drop to the ground, find cover under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture, and hold until the shaking stops. If a table is not available, move to a corner or inside part of the building—away from glass—and stay on the floor with arms covering the head.
Educate members of the household to stay inside until the shaking has stopped. When outside, move away from building and head to an open space.