It has been 10 months since Typhoon Ketsana, locally known as Ondoy, took the Philippines by storm, and only one day since Typhoon Conson, or Basyang, knocked out the power in Metro Manila, leaving it and many other Luzon areas flooded and coping with damage caused by the strong winds. Some would say that we have always recovered pretty well from disasters such as these, what with our sunny disposition and bayanihan spirit. And while typhoons may have some people buying out emergency supplies and hoarding groceries, many will simply enjoy the "free" holiday and wait for things to return to normal.
Still, it seems that the rainy season is still revving up to gain momentum, with Basyang only the first of the season's typhoons. This gives us some time to prepare for it, which we should take full advantage of. While we do hope that we don’t get a second helping of Typhoon Ondoy, a little bit of vigilance wouldn’t hurt.
Let FN help give you a head start with our tips on what to do in case a flood rises to abnormal levels. Click on a tip below to learn more about it, or simply keep reading!
WHEN YOU’RE AT HOME
- Prepare evacuation kits.
- Keep a close watch on the neighborhood.
- Pull the plug—ASAP!
- Check on neighbors and family.
- Immediately evacuate to higher ground.
WHEN YOU’RE OUTDOORS
- Scout for elevated areas.
- Stay away from anything electrical like lampposts or transformers.
- Don't stay in your car.
- Stay on solid ground.
- Keep in touch.
Was your house flooded in the recent typhoon? Check out our article on cleaning up after a flood for some tips on dealing with the aftermath.
(Photo source: sxc.hu)
WHEN YOU’RE AT HOME
Prepare evacuation kits.
While we hope that you won’t ever have to evacuate your home, you should nevertheless prepare for every possibility. Include water, non-perishable food (and the means to use and get at them, such as plates and utensils, can or bottle openers, etc.), a first aid kit (complete with maintenance medication for members of your household with preexisting conditions, such as asthma), heavy duty flashlights, extra batteries (for the flashlights and even cell phones), a change of clothes, and plastic and garbage bags (which can be used to keep your things dry, especially your cell phone, or even as a makeshift rain cover for you and your family). Pack these in easy-to-carry bags, such as backpacks—it's a good idea to invest in at least one all-weather pack.
[Click here to view a slide show of emergency kit essentials]
Keep a close watch on the neighborhood.
When Typhoon Ondoy hit the country, the rain went on for hours and hours. As such, it would be really helpful to be observant of your surroundings. Try to peep from your window to check the status of your neighborhood. If your area doesn’t get normally flooded and you see people wading in knee-deep waters, then something is definitely wrong. Tune in to the radio and TV, or stay online to get the latest updates (battery-operated radios and laptops will come in handy (see the next tip), but make sure you conserve your charge in case of power outages). It will also be helpful to consult your barangay captain for updates. According to this article from GMA News, MMDA recently acquired CCTV systems to alert badly-affected areas immediately. This would come in really handy for your neighborhood flood-watch.
Pull the plug—ASAP!
Rally everyone to turn off all electric appliances and unplug them right away. Heavy rains may cause waters to quickly seep in your house, so this is something you should do before that happens to minimize the chances of anyone getting electrocuted. It would be wise to invest in electrical outlet covers to provide protection from incoming flood waters, especially if you live in a low-lying area.
Check on neighbors and family.
Do a headcount. If a member of your household is not in the house with you, prioritize checking on them and verifying whether they’re okay and where they are. Also check on your next-door neighbors, especially if your house is on higher ground than theirs is. You might be able to give them much-needed shelter or assistance in case of injury or evacuation or provide them with supplies in case they are short on these.
Immediately evacuate to higher ground.
“I was so shocked that the flood level in our house rose in a matter of minutes. It was so fast that I barely had time to react,” Dina, a housewife, shares. Before you start worrying about possessions, it is imperative that everyone in the house (including pets) is on safe ground. If your house has second or third floors, immediately relocate everyone there. During Ondoy, a lot of neighbors extended their homes to those who were located in one-storey houses. Don’t wait for water levels to rise above chest-level before relocating everyone in the house. Keep tabs on sick companions as they may need to drink medicine regularly.
(Photo source: sxc.hu)
WHEN YOU’RE OUTDOORS
Scout for elevated areas.
Try to find an elevated place where the flood can’t get to you. If you’re outside, go for the nearest high-rise building or mall that can house you, and if there isn’t one convenient, try to find a building or other structure on higher ground, such as a hill.
Stay away from anything electrical.
There’s still danger of getting electrocuted outdoors. Veer away from lampposts, as there’s a possibility of wires breaking, posing a major threat to those in their immediate vicinity. If you plan to relocate indoors, make sure to steer clear of electrical appliances, especially if those are still plugged to the outlet. Also, it would be wise to stay away from waterways, rivers, and gutters to avoid getting a big serving of flood waters.
Don't stay in your car.
Your car may be the safest place in the world if you’re stranded in an unfamiliar area, but it’s better not to stay there if it starts to flood. It might get swept away or toppled over by other cars or washed away with other debris, which can put you in a very tight spot. It would be wise, though, if you keep food and water in your car too, just in case you get stranded in traffic.
Stay on solid ground.
It is not safe to brave rushing flood waters, even if you think you can manage it. Head for the nearest elevated (and, if possible, dry) area instead. There have been cases where able-bodied people got swept away by flood waters. Even if you know how to swim, you may still have to face a strong current or risk being injured by debris in the water. Your best bet is to find a safe spot and stay there, especially if there is some way you can convey your location to rescuers.
Keep in touch.
Make sure to call or text your family to update them of your whereabouts. Signal loss is highly probable while a storm is raging, and chances are, you won’t be able to charge your battery while outdoors. It will be helpful to stay with a group of people for help and support. As they say, there’s safety in numbers, so stay with people who can assist you if anything goes wrong rather than wandering off on your own. If you don’t know the people you’re with, take the time to learn their names and tell them yours—if you get separated or lost in the rescue efforts, they’ll at least know when and where you were last seen.
(Photo by Hinzel via Wikimedia Commons)