Disaster preparedness in the family
(The Freeman) - November 5, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines – These days widespread calamities are becoming common. Some are caused by nature, others by man. Volcanic eruptions, super typhoons, fires. And the gravity of the disasters seems to be rising every time.

There may be little that can be done to prevent a disaster from happening. But there is much to do to ensure the safety of loved ones, particularly the members of the family. All in the family must be prepared enough on what to do when disaster strikes - and they shall be prepared at all times, since no one knows the time.

Safety consciousness begins at home. Everything, especially sharp and pointed objects, must be kept out of the way, to prevent family members from stepping or stumbling on these in case of an emergency or mere power failure. Likewise, standing pieces of furniture must be firmly secure in their places, so they may not fall down during a tremor.

Family members, including small children, shall be familiarized with the safe exit points around the house, in case the house shall be vacated quickly. There shall be several safe exit points to be mapped out, so if one won't do in the actual event of emergency there would still be other options. The main door and the backdoors are part of the options, but there shall be others, like perhaps a low window or even a high window with an exit ladder.

As much as possible, the main power switch in the house shall be turned off in the event of fire, typhoon or flooding. And gas kitchen equipment, like stoves, must be unplugged. But if doing these would expose one to greater danger, getting out of the house should be top priority, instead. Family members should discuss this as part of the family emergency plan.

It is not enough, however, just to draw out an emergency plan by simply discussing it. There shall be a regular schedule of putting the plan to action by family members actually going through it. In other words, the family needs to rehearse their emergency plan. By acting out the plan, family members will be able to spot potential deficiencies and remedy it in time.

At the same time, disaster preparations should include supplies for the family for a certain period of time, say two to three days, before outside help can be realistically expected. This is so during major emergencies like typhoon or earthquakes where vast areas may be affected. It is advisable to keep basic necessities in an easy-to-carry emergency kit that can be used at home or take along in case the family must evacuate.

The Red Cross lists the following as the basic supplies to have:

• Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home);

• Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home).

• Flashlight (with extra batteries)

• Transistor Radio (with extra batteries)

• Fully-charged Cell Phone (useful if network signal is available), and charger

• First aid kit

• Medications (7-day supply) and medical items

• Multi-purpose tool

• Sanitation and personal hygiene items

• Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies etc.)

• Family and emergency contact information

• Extra cash

Families with little babies shall also have baby supplies ready, like feeding bottles, baby food, diapers etc. And the needs of all family members shall be considered as well, including maintenance medicines, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and the like.

For creating the family emergency plan, the Red Cross suggests three simple steps:

1. With your family or household members, discuss how to prepare and respond to the types of emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.

2. Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and how you will work together as a team.

3. Practice as many elements of your plan as possible.

There's a saying: "An emergency has a naughty habit of striking when you're least prepared for it." This saying might as well be taken as a challenge. For indeed anyone can be well prepared for any emergency - by being ready at all times. - Nahan Cabello (FREEMAN)

RED CROSS
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