What If “Maria” Dropped By?

What could have happened if #TyphoonMaria dropped by?

We all know that when the heavy rain comes, what happens next is no longer a surprise – our city streets becomes flooded; cars and people find themselves stranded; the water supply is cut off; and on occasions, trees and branches fall on electric posts and wires which results to city-wide brownout. And we all find ourselves helpless.

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Flood in CdO today, 10 July 2018 (Photo Credit: Nef Luczon)

But this need not be the case. There is a way to be on top of things, beginning with putting this saying into practice: “It is always best to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” We’re talking about preparedness especially during calamities.

So where do we begin? With the heavy rains expected in the coming days, it will be to our best interest to prepare everything that we need, just in case the worst happens. Worst means severe flooding which may endanger our lives and our properties. Severe flooding can also affect our mobility, which means we won’t be able to go just about anywhere. We cannot do our usual grocery shopping or “pamalenke”, and going to the next-door sari-sari store may also be difficult, that is if they are even open. The supply of electricity and water can also be affected.

So here’s the thing. We need to prepare 1) our individual 72-Hour Kit (3-days worth of supply of food and water and emergency supplies placed inside a bag or backpack) and 2) our home supply. The 72-Hour Kit we prepare in case we need to evacuate and leave our homes and go somewhere safe. The home supply in case we will be confined in our homes for days and will not be able to go anywhere else.

The individual 72-Hour Kit should contain the following:

Water
Enough water supply for 3 days. To prevent dehydration, health authorities recommend that each person drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, an equivalent of about 2 liters or half a gallon per day. For 3 days, a person needs 6 liters of drinking water. And then we need to add extra for cooking.

Now before I proceed you might ask why 3 days specifically? Because according to disaster rescue experts, it usually takes 3 days for rescuers to find and reach victims of calamities and disasters. It also takes about 3 days to clean up debris and restore basic services like water supply and electricity. So 3 days of supplies is always recommended.

Food
For food, we need also 3 days supplies. What kinds of foods? Be sure they are easy-to-prepare meals. Ready-to-eat like canned goods is okay. Lots of energy bars especially for kids. Include also food that can be prepared with hot water only like oatmeal and energy drinks.

Medicines
There may be members of the family who have maintenance medicines. Put these in their individual bags, in case you will be separated. Make sure they have enough supply to last for at least one week. Ensure you also have allergy medicines just in case. A first Aid Kit is also essential. Medicines for diarrhea, pain killers, fever, as well as headaches will also be very helpful. Put them all in a safe container, one that’s water proof. Include a small scissor, a sewing kit, and safety pins.

Each bag must also have the following: a small flashlight, candles, matches, extra batteries, fully charged power banks, solar lamps (if you have), cellphone chargers, whistles, and if you have a Swiss army knife throw it in the bag with all the aforementioned above. It is best if all these supplies are in one waterproof container.

Clothes and Blankets
Prepare extra clothing as well for each individual, just in case you need to go somewhere. Place in a bag that can be easily carried. It is best that each member of the family have his or her own bag containing dry clothes (make sure they are not bulky), undies, and socks. A small blanket will also come in handy with wet and cold weather. Roll them individually so that they will fit perfectly in the bag or backpack. All members of the family must have his/her own bag and should be responsible in carrying the bag when the need arises.

Prepare extra cash in small denominations (bills). This may come in handy, you’ll never know.

For Home Supply

Food
How’s your pantry? Do you have sufficient supply for all the members of your family, including your pets, for the next 3 days or more?

Water
Do you have enough drinking water in case water supply stops? Do you have enough water for cooking? For bathing and for flushing the toilet? It may help to make sure you have water containers and start filling them up when the rain falls. Close the containers when filled to keep them clean.

What else? Well, do you have enough LPG? Sometimes we ran out of LPG when we least expect it. Do you have enough cooking supplies? What if it will be too difficult to go shopping because of heavy rain? Do you have enough supply of cooking oil? Sugar? Salt? Rice? Vinegar? How about shampoo? Or toothpaste? Or bath soap? Or laundry soap? Remember, even if it’s raining cats and dogs we still need to take a bath and brush our teeth … and do some laundry even if it means we hang our clothes to dry inside our comfort rooms or sala!

Do you have a car? Make sure that it has fuel as well. Who knows you and your family might need to go somewhere safe. It pays to have a tank filled with gas. Public transport may not be readily available.

And make sure the kids will not get bored in the house when the classes are called off. Prepare activities for them to do to make them “productive”. Don’t let them stay in front of the TV for a very long time, and monitor their gadget use. And don’t get bored yourself when you find yourself under “house arrest” because of the heavy rains, especially when there’s no electricity (meaning no TV and no Wi-Fi).

Hopefully your house will stay dry and you as well, then you can sit together as a family and enjoy each others company. I remember the times when electricity was out because of heavy rain and we had nothing else to do but sit together in our living room, all 7 of us … and share stories, of past and present experiences. We always had fun, and thinking about all those times, they were “blessings in disguise”. It always felt good afterwards.

We can always find good in even the direst situation, if only we have the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the hearts to feel. Sometimes, things happen to make us remember what truly matters most.

Lastly, when we are prepared there’s no need to fear, so preparation is always the key! From one of the disaster preparedness website I got this quotation:

“Despair is most often the offspring of ill-preparedness.” “We cannot stop natural disasters but we can arm ourselves with knowledge: so many lives wouldn’t have to be lost if there was enough disaster preparedness.” “Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life, not a sudden, spectacular program.”

May God bless us all!

This article is also published in Mindanao Gold Star Daily, a local newspaper in Northern Mindanao based in Cagayan de Oro City.

#DisasterPreparedness #72HourKit #TyphoonMaria

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