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The Grab Bag

In case of emergency, please grab this bag immediately


By Sara Grace C. Fojas
Interview with Joey Zaballero
Image by Noel Pabalate

The Big One—an anticipated magnitude 7.2 mega-earthquake that might be generated by the West Valley Fault—a fault that traverses through 57 subdivisions in Greater Manila Area, including Rizal, Marikina, Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Laguna, and Cavite. Not to scare you or anything, but this disastrous event is bound to happen, sooner or later. The question is: are you prepared? Do you think you could survive a San Andreas movie type of calamity? In this issue, we want you to be ready, and one step to getting ready is to have a grab bag—an emergency bag that you can immediately get when a disaster strikes, whether it’s an earthquake, flood, fire, etc. Remember, it’s best to be prepared.



  1. First Aid Kit

The most important content of your bag should be the first aid kit. You can buy your own ready-made kit or you can personalize your own (highly recommended). When personalizing and preparing think of the things that might happen during the disaster and put the materials you might need in case of injuries. Prepare for bruises, cuts, scrapes, and broken bones. Know also how to use the contents of your kit. Include also medicines such as paracetamol and band aids.

  1. Food and water

You need to be hydrated during this tragic time, plus you need the energy to survive. Stock food on a regular basis—something that’s easy or ready to eat and doesn’t need a lot of preparation. Water is also very important. Keep also water purification tablets to draw clean water for questionable sources.

  1. Old Tarpaulin

When you see that your house is no longer safe and you need to evacuate, this old tarpaulin can be used to build a tent. You may also opt to put sleeping bags and blankets to provide you and your family comfort and warmth.

  1. Clothes

Prepare for at least three days—from underwear to hats. Bring hygiene products.

  1. Communication gadgets

Aside from cell phones and power banks, bring spare chargers and spare batteries. Invest on a portable radio to keep yourself informed of what’s happening around you. Keep a whistle inside your pocket to let people know where you are in case of emergency.

  1. Tool box

It’s always better to come prepared so have multitools inside your bag for fixing small stuff. Include also a Swiss Army knife, tapes, paracords, glue, and safety pins.

  1. Essential documents

Keep your passports, birth certificates, and all your important documents inside one plastic envelope and place it near your grab bag so that it will be also ready in case you need to evacuate your area.


  • Have an earthquake preparedness list. Sit down with the whole family and list down the things you need and make a plan of what to do and what you’ll need. Have a plan on who will call who and who will pick up the children, and where to go. Talk about it and reinforce it now and then. The end destination should be at home because that’s where you can get your supplies.
  • Have a get home bag—a smaller version of your grab bag that you can bring with you all the time. Put whistle, flashlight, a small knife, a small first aid kit, malong, food, water, small repair kit, a change of clothes, and a hygiene kit inside.
  • Prepare an emergency bag for your children that contain flashlight, whistle, candy, biscuits, and a bottle of water. It’s also important to have stuff familiar to them because a disaster is a very high stress event for family members especially for children. It’s best to keep things as calm and as familiar to them. If they have a regular food or a favorite snack to eat, it’s best to have that. Put a favorite toy also inside the bag and teach them when and how to use a whistle.
  • The bags you’ll be using should be something that you’re comfortable walking around with like a simple overnight bag or a simple backpack that you can carry for over long distances.
  • Tell your children to follow the instructions of the adults in their school. Encourage them to participate in the drills.
  • It’s better to be self-sufficient, don’t rely on the government in times of emergency. You should know how to survive on your own. If you can’t stay at your house then you should have a separate location for yourself. Evacuation center should be the last place you go. Either use your network of family and friends if ever your residence fails. Be prepared with your neighborhood.
  • Update your bag from time to time. Do a check every six months for the batteries and the expiration date of the medicines.
  • When trapped inside a collapsed building, check first if you’re physically hurt or not. Don’t panic. Always have your flashlight and whistle with you to signal that you’re alive. Keep calm and pray.
  • When you’re inside a moving vehicle and start to notice that things are going wonky, pull the car aside and stop. Make sure nothing’s going to fall at the top of the car and crush you. Keep calm. You’re probably going to be safer inside the car than outside because it forms protection. But don’t pull it next to a cliff or underneath a flyover.

Put yourself to safety first before taking videos during an earthquake.

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