The emergency alerts delivered via mobile phones as Typhoon Karding entered the country were quite jarring. I wanted to silence them but my phone proved smarter than I was, and minutes of tinkering did not get me anywhere.
But then I imagined what it could be like for residents of flood-prone areas such as Marikina. They need to hear those warnings, more than once, and hopefully be prompted to move to somewhere safer.
I have two friends who pride themselves as Marikina residents. During Typhoon Ondoy, they waited on the roofs of their homes for rescuers while everything within sight disappeared under flood waters. When it was safe, they were the first to move back, clean up and rebuild. Then another typhoon came, and another, and just last year, they also fell victim to Typhoon Ulysses.
As I received the emergency alerts, I checked in on them and both were ready for the worst. It didn’t seem like Typhoon Karding, described as an explosive typhoon, would change their minds to leave now, or move out altogether. If you’re also staying in flood-prone areas, or know family and friends who do, here are some things that may help you (or them) get typhoon-ready.
#1 Designate a safe house
Most residents prefer to stay put, but when government declares you need to move out, it’s good to have a safe house prepared. I don’t mean your own house, a back-up residence just waiting for you to visit when a typhoon comes. A safe house could be your parents’ home, or your brother’s, or sister’s, or any friend. Basically it’s a place that you know can receive you in an emergency. This way, you and them are prepared for your unexpected stay.
#2 Emergency bags are packed and ready
Between typhoons and earthquakes and threats of volcano eruption, every Filipino home should have emergency bags packed and ready at any time. You will find many lists of items that should go into these bags online, but it’s also important to consider your own needs. If you have family members that have allergies, or special needs, make sure to pack for them. Always check your bags every 3 months to see that none of the items have expired, especially medical supplies.
#3 Charge up for the next 12 to 24 hours
From power banks to mobile phones to emergency lanterns, make sure to charge everything fully as you wait for the coming typhoon. One convenient thing to add to the list are electrical items that can also be charged using solar power. Brownouts are common after typhoons, but with solar panels or solar batteries, you can at least have light, listen to the radio, make calls or send urgent messages.
#4 Write down emergency numbers
Yes, I mean the old-fashion pen and paper list. The last thing you want is to have all the emergency numbers saved on your phone that has run out of battery. Make sure your list includes the barangay office, police, hospital, electricity provider, water company, ambulance service, your family and close friends, even food take-out and delivery hotlines.
#5 Typhoon-proof your home
If you have to stay in your typhoon-prone neighborhood, do what you can to make your house a safer place. After Typhoon Ondoy, one of my friends built a third floor to their home. It included an open air balcony and boasted of the same height as their former roof. They designed it that way so they could wait more comfortably if the flood waters came and kept rising. During Typhoon Ulysses, their ground floor was flooded but they already moved what they could to the second floor, unplugged electrical appliances, and stocked up on food items.
In an ideal world, no typhoon-prone area will stay that way. That’s because our taxes should be working for us, and better urban planning will happen to prevent another flooding. Until then, let these five ideas help you safeguard your family and your home now that we have officially entered the typhoon season.