How to make an earthquake preparedness plan
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - April 25, 2019 - 12:00am

For the past two decades, geological reports referred to a major earthquake that will rip off Metro Manila through the fault line starting from Marikina through the center of the metro. Houses actually have been sinking in Provident Village where my brother-in-law used to live.

Deep-sea oil diggings that break the bedrock of the ocean like the Malampaya project, and the mining quarries across the country are compounding the problem, let alone the 40- to 50-story high-rise condominiums continuously rising on every square meter of Metro Manila.

Family earthquake preparedness plan

The safety and wellbeing of your loved ones are important, so take time NOW to develop a family earthquake preparedness plan. If you have already developed a plan, take time to review and update it. Below is a sample plan that you can use for your family.

1) Practice “drop, cover, and hold on” to be safe during an earthquake. Identify safe spots in every room such as under sturdy desks and tables. Learn how to protect yourself no matter where you are when a disaster strike. 2) Keep shoes and a working flashlight next to each bed. 3) Teach everyone in your household to use emergency whistles and/or to knock three times repeatedly if trapped. Rescuers searching collapsed buildings will be listening for sounds. 4) Identify the needs of household members and neighbors with special requirements or situation such as use of a wheelchair, walking aids, special diets or medication. Know about the emergency plan developed by your children’s school or day care. Keep your children’s school emergency release card current.

Know the location of utility shutoffs and keep needed tools nearby. Know how to turn off the gas, water and electricity in your home. Turn off the gas if you smell or hear it leak. 

Community emergency response team

1) Check with your city to see if there is a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in your area. If not, ask how to start one. 2) Let your barangay organize a Red Cross first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training course. Get training from your local fire department on how to properly use a fire extinguisher. 3) Locate a safe place outside of your home to meet your family or housemate after a disaster. 4) Designate an out-of-town contact person who can be called by everyone in the household to relay information. 5) Provide all family members with a paper list of important contact phone numbers. 6) Determine where you can stay if your home cannot be occupied after an earthquake or other disasters (ask friends or relatives). 7) Keep copies of essential documents, such as identification, insurance policies and financial records in a secure, waterproof container along with your disaster supplies kit. 8) Have occasional “earthquake drills” to practice your plan. Ask your babysitters, house sitters, neighbors, co-workers and others about their disaster plans, and share your plan with them.

Earthquake safety at the office requires preparedness from managers to workers

Unlike hurricanes and some other natural hazards, earthquakes strike suddenly and without warning. Nevertheless, if the business that you own or work for is located in a region at risk for earthquakes, there are many things that can be done to reduce the chances that those who work in or visit the premises will be injured, that property there will be damaged, or that your day-to-day operations will be unduly disrupted by an earthquake. These activities all fall under the concept of preparedness.

To be effective, they must be done before earthquakes occur. Preparing for earthquakes involves 1) Learning what employers should do before, during and after earthquakes; 2) Doing or preparing to do those things now, before the next quake; 3) Workplace preparedness requires the participation of owners, managers and workers, as well as those who design, build, regulate and maintain buildings used as workplaces. The following are activities that can be undertaken now.

Remember the 6-story Ruby Tower in Binondo, 1968

The complete destruction of the six-story Ruby Tower on Aug. 2, 1968 with 7.3 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale caused the death of 270 and injury to more than 261. What could happen to the new 40- to 50-story high-rise condos? Make your buildings safer to be in during earthquakes and more resistant to earthquake damage and disruption. Check with your local building-regulatory agency to find out whether, and for how long, structures in your area have been subjected to building codes containing seismic design provisions. Facilities constructed before adequate provisions came into effect may have structural vulnerabilities.

It is also important to know whether and for how long local seismic code provisions have addressed nonstructural building components. Nonstructural items include utility systems and architectural elements (e.g. light fixtures, suspended ceilings, windows, partitions), as well as furnishings, supplies, inventory, equipment, and other building contents. Any nonstructural items that are not effectively anchored, braced, reinforced, or otherwise secured could become safety hazards or property losses in an earthquake. Design and construction professionals are needed to properly secure some of these.

From top managers to part-time workers, all must learn to react safely

Prepare your workforce to: React Safely – Every employee from top managers to part-time and temporary workers needs to learn what to do during an earthquake. Safety orientations should emphasize safe places to “drop, cover, and hold on” during earthquake shaking, and safe locations where people can rendezvous when the shaking has stopped and it is safe and advisable to evacuate your facilities.

Hold quarterly mandatory earthquake drills to give employees opportunities to practice what they have learned and condition themselves to react spontaneously and safely when the first jolt or shaking is felt. To help workers in the immediate aftermath of earthquakes or other disasters, arrange for employees to be trained now in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the use of fire extinguishers. Earthquakes should be thoroughly integrated into the organization’s emergency preparedness, response, and recovery planning.

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