Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Disaster preparedness at home

Nathan Cabello - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  In the light of Typhoon “Ompong,” everyone is once again reminded of the value of being prepared for any emergency or calamity. The forces of nature, for example, are impossible to contain, and it’s better to be always prepared in case nature unleashes its fury. In that way, the likelihood of damage – to life and property – will be less.


Life is always of paramount importance during an emergency. Keeping the family safe in a disaster is a top priority. As much as possible, everything shall be well-planned beforehand in order to be sure that the family’s every need is covered.

When disaster strikes, there’s often chaos and confusion. Nobody could think straight, so to speak. The mind is liable to miss out on many important and necessary things. 

Again, it helps to have certain necessities always ready ahead of time. Doing so would leave the mind free to focus on dealing with the unforeseen challenges at the moment. And, in that way, the emergency situation can be handled much more effectively.

There is often a shortage of needed supplies during a calamity. Stores may close and emergency responders will be overwhelmed. A little planning can go a long way to give everyone peace of mind.

The website www.moreprepared.com shares the following four steps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for getting the family ready for a disaster:

1. Be informed. Contact your local disaster council or Red Cross chapter to gather the information you will need to create a disaster plan. Ask about the particular calamity that threatens your area and the gravity of the risk to your community, as well as the planned collective responses like evacuation and designated emergency shelters.

Also find out about warning systems of an impending disaster, and ask for advice on what to do during and after a disaster.

2. Make a plan. Meet with your family members and together go through the information you’ve gathered. Explain the dangers to little children and work with them as a team in preparing your family.

Choose an “out-of-town” contact. In case family members get separated during a disaster, they should contact this person afterwards to notify where they are. Through this contact person, family members could get in touch with one another and agree where to meet. It is also good to give your contact person other important information such as a list of medications for certain family members, insurance policy numbers, copies of other important documents etc.

In case of a fire or other emergency, you may need to evacuate quickly, and so everyone shall be ready to get out fast. The family should discuss and decide together the best escape routes out of your house as well as where the safe places are in your home for each type of disaster. Family members with special needs have to be considered. The family pets shall be part of the plan, too.

The family should practice emergency evacuation drills at least two times a year.

3. Put together an emergency kit. In the event that the family needs to evacuate at a moment’s notice, there is probably no more time to shop or search for the supplies you and your family will need. You should have a ready emergency kit around and keep it up-to-date.

The emergency kit is a collection of basic items the family would probably need to stay safe and more comfortable during and after a disaster. The provisions should be stored in portable containers as close as possible to the exit door. Review the contents at least annually or as your family’s needs change. Also, consider having emergency supplies in each family vehicle and at your place of employment.

4. Maintain the family’s emergency plan and kit.

Quiz – Review your emergency plan every six months and quiz your family about what to do.

Drill – Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills on a regular basis with your family.

Restock – Check food supplies in the emergency kit for expiration dates, and discard if need be.

Test – Read the indicator on your fire extinguishers and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to recharge. Test your home smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Replace alarms every 10 years.

How to Build an Emergency Kit

Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life. Headed to the store? Download a printable version to take with you. Once you take a look at the basic items, consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets, or seniors.

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

•To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.

•A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

•Water - one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

•Food  - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

•Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert


•First aid kit

•Extra batteries

•Whistle to signal for help

•Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

•Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

•Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

•Manual can opener for food

•Local maps

•Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Additional emergency supplies

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:

•Maintenance medications

•Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives

•Glasses and contact lens solution

•Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream

•Pet food and extra water for your pet


•Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container

•Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person

•Complete change of clothing appropriate for the time and sturdy shoes

•Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water

•Fire extinguisher

•Matches in a waterproof container

•Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

•Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils

•Paper and pencil

•Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Maintaining an Emergency Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s always ready when needed:

•Keep canned food in a cool, dry place

•Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers

•Replace expired items as needed

•Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Where to store the Emergency Kit

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work, and vehicles.

Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.

Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.

Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. (www.ready.gov)

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