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The Evacuation Plan

Where to go and when and how to evacuate when disaster strikes

Updated

By Sara Grace C. Fojas

To somewhere safe villagers of Maribojoc, Bohol island, central Philippine use bamboo ladders to cross a bridge that was toppled by the 7.1 magnitude quake that hit the area on Oct. 15, 2015 leaving over 170 dead.  AFP PHOTO / Jay Directo

To somewhere safe villagers of Maribojoc, Bohol island, central Philippine use bamboo ladders to cross a bridge that was toppled by the 7.1 magnitude quake that hit the area on Oct. 15, 2015 leaving over 170 dead. AFP PHOTO / Jay Directo

Today, it might be sunny, but tomorrow, or the days after that, there might be a typhoon or really heavy rain that might bring flood or maybe an earthquake or a fire. We’ll never know what might happen in the next seconds of our lives and because of that we should know to get ready. Remember, the best way to be ready for disaster is to have a plan. Here are reminders for every situation you wouldn’t want to forget.

 Before a disaster:

Be prepared. Before anything else happens, make sure that you are prepared for the worst. It is best to have a grab bag for each member of the family with everything you need inside: a change of clothes, flashlight, ready-to-eat meals, battery-powered radio, water, multi-purpose knife, medicines, first aid kit, sanitation and hygiene items, and anything that you think you and your family might need. Important documents and a list of emergency numbers should also be stored in a safe place so that you can grab them anytime.

Plan ahead also with the family and create exit route assignments whenever a disaster happen. Make sure that is clearly marked and well lit. Always have a plan on where you will go and where you will meet your family within and outside your neighborhood. If you have a car, keep the gas tank full and practice to maintain at least a half filled gas tank. Familiarize yourself with alternate routes and other means of transportation.  Also, tell a relative whose out-of-state where you are going do they’ll know where to find you. Finally, before evacuating, wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a cap.

 Typhoon and flood evacuation

One of the most common disasters we encounter now, especially now that it’s rainy season. Make sure that you have your emergency kit ready. Before evacuating, elevate your valuables and switch off the main power if needed. Load a radio with batteries to monitor the typhoon. Identify a safe area you can go to should you need to evacuate. Use your mobile phone for important things only.

When you evacuate and must wade through flood waters, wash yourself as soon as possible. Be wary of live wires and manholes. When you’re safe and evacuated, continue to monitor the news.

Fire in Tondo a fireman witnesses how a fire engulfs a residential area in Narciso Street, Tondo Manila into flames as they wait for more water to extinguish the said conflagration which reached Task Force Alpha before dawn. (Image by Jun Ryan Arañas)

Fire in Tondo a fireman witnesses how a fire engulfs a residential area in Narciso Street, Tondo Manila into flames as they wait for more water to extinguish the said conflagration which reached Task Force Alpha before dawn. (Image by Jun Ryan Arañas)

 Fire evacuation 

Whether you’re at home or in the office, make sure everyone is informed of the sound of the fire alarm and the evacuation route. Fire alarms should give two different signals: warning and evacuation. Keep fire exits open, unobstructed, and wide enough to accommodate people. In case of fire, start the evacuation by initially evacuating the people closest to the fire. Do not panic and evacuate in an orderly and calm manner. Do not use lifts and escalators but follow the fire exit. Go directly to nearest fire-free and smoke-free stairwell. Listen carefully for instructions. When there’s a smoke, crawl low, under the smoke to breathe cleaner air. Test doors for heat before opening them by touching it with back of your hand so that you don’t burn your palm and fingers. Do not open a hot door but find another exit route.

Remember also that infants and older adults may need your assistance. Let them also master the fire escape plan and attend a fire drill beforehand. Practice with them whenever you can.

If you’re trapped, stay calm and protect yourself. Go to the nearest window and call for help or wave a light-colored cloth to attract attention.

Once you’re outside, do not re-enter the building until directed by authorities. If someone is missing, inform the fire fighters immediately.

 Earthquake Evacuation

If you experience shaking and suspect that it’s an earthquake, do not panic. If you are indoors, stay inside and take cover. Always keep in mind: drop, cover, hold! Drop down and take cover under a desk or table until the shaking stops and it is safe to exit. Stay away from bookcases and furniture that can fall on you. Stay away also from windows and light fixtures. If you’re in bed, stay there and protect your head with a pillow. If in a wheel chair, go to a safe position, lock the wheels, stay where you are and cover your head.

When the shaking stops, do not use the elevators to exit the building. Go to an open space once the earthquake is over far from any damage buildings.

If you’re outside look for cover but don’t go inside any building.

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. You’re going to be safer inside the car than outside because it forms protection. But don’t pull over near an overpass, bridges, power lines, trees, signs, and buildings.

When you’re trapped inside a collapsed building after an earthquake, check first if you’re physically hurt or not. Always have your flashlight and whistle with you to signal that you’re alive. Keep calm and pray. Be aware of tsunamis and aftershocks.

Finally, put yourself to safety first before taking videos during an earthquake.

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