How To Prepare For Emergencies and Disasters

By Mommy Donna and Kib - March 30, 2020

In my 40+ years of existence, the COVID-19 pandemic is the first time that I experienced and felt a crisis that happened in the Philippines. Well, I've experienced volcanic eruptions (Taal and Pinatubo), major earthquakes, military crises (coup d'etat), major floods, and revolutions when I was younger, but the COVID-19 pandemic is one for the books. For me, this is the true test of resilience because the battle will last for months, or even years.

I have watched the Netflix documentary series, "Pandemic," and it is an eye-opener for me. Experts said that sooner or later, a pandemic will happen again, just like the 1918 flu pandemic. What's scary is that a lot is still not ready for the pandemic.

In the Philippines, this is the first time in history that a lot of people got sick at the same time. The Philippines was able to prevent SARS and MERS from becoming an outbreak in the country. However, this time, the Philippines wasn't spared from COVID-19. 

As of this writing, there are 1,500 reported COVID-19 cases in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte announced a community quarantine on March 15, 2020. The community quarantine was further expanded two days after, putting the whole Luzon island on quarantine. Eventually, all other cities and towns all over the Philippines followed suit.

The community quarantine is something new to the Filipinos. Businesses and even the government are not ready for this. While the Philippines always experience natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, keeping almost the whole country on a medical alert is something that the national government cannot handle.

It's good that the local government units (LGUs) are mobilizing fast. They are providing for the basic needs of the residents. They also monitor the incoming and outgoing activities of people from one city/town to another. They also provide immediate medical needs to their constituents should they need one.

Despite the proactive moves of the local government, as a whole, we are not prepared. 

We were too complacent that the Philippines will be spared from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our government could've been more vigilant about the coming and going of tourists from another country.

All we can do at this time is to take this time as a learning opportunity and be prepared for the future emergencies that we will experience.

Here are some ways that you can do to prepare for future emergencies and disasters:

1. Have an emergency fund. Finance experts say that one must have six months' worth of emergency funds. An emergency fund should be able to cover six months' worth of expenses. The emergency fund should be separate from savings. Savings should remain intact as much as possible.

2. Grow plants that you can eat. During disasters and pandemics, food prices tend to go high due to limited supply. Having edible plants in the garden will save you some money in buying ingredients that you need for your dishes.

3. Keep yourself healthy. A healthy person has a high chance of surviving during disasters and pandemics. Our bodies can fight off viruses and bacteria if we are healthy. 

4. Always keep emergency phone numbers handy. Post emergency numbers on strategic places in your home. Ideally, emergency numbers are posted near the telephone, but make sure emergency numbers are also saved on your mobile phone or kept in your journal or planner.

5. If you can, invest in a two-way radio. Emergency response teams such as police and firemen communicate using a two-way radio. Mobile phone signals during disasters may be poor, so by investing in a two-way radio, you will be able to seek help even if there is no mobile phone signal.

6. Learn survival skills. Cooking, driving, swimming, basic first aid, and knowledge on the use of basic tools such as a power drill can help you survive these trying times. It is advisable that you learn basic life hacks and alternatives that you can use during emergencies. 

When you know how to cook, you can create new recipes using the available ingredients at home. Driving skills are a must especially when public transportation isn't available. Having your own car will help you carry a lot of stuff. Swimming is a survival skill, it is necessary if you are trapped in water. Knowledge in basic first aid is also a must so that you will know how to respond to emergencies and not panic. 

7. Own a utility knife. Have a utility knife handy at all times. You may put it inside your bag, have it in the glove compartment of your car, or put it in your emergency kit.

8. Always have cash on hand. During this period, it is very difficult to transact with banks. You can only have limited transactions or the bank systems are down. Credit cards are also a lifesaver but do not rely on technology 100% during this period.

9. Have an emergency kit. Here are some of the things that you need on your emergency kit: flashlight, match, water tumbler, first aid kit, whistle, basic medicines (paracetamol, painkiller, stomach pain, diarrhea), batteries. The emergency kit must include the things that you need to bring with you should you need to vacate your home. It should be kept together in your home and should be in a handy bag. You must also check the expiry of the medicines every now and then.

10. Pray. Even if the Lord allows that disaster to happen, He has the best plans for us. Always look for something to be thankful for despite the tragedy so that you will be able to face it with positivity and a clear mind. Prayer will help us to be peaceful and be calm during trying times. Pray for protection and sustenance always.

I do hope that the next time we experience a major disaster, we are more prepared. While some unexpected things can still happen, if you have the knowledge and skills in handling emergencies and disasters, you'll survive.

God bless!

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