My neighbors laughed when I told them what I intended to do with the rope I bought.
“You have a wild imagination,” one of them said.
But I retorted: “Disasters can happen to anyone. I don’t want to be caught unprepared.”
It was a few months after Ondoy. Ours were among the houses that were submerged in the flash flood that inundated Metro Manila. Since that experience, I had become more safety and preparedness obsessed.
Although compared to many, my brother and I may be better prepared for eventualities such as disasters, I realized during Ondoy that I am not as prepared as I want to be. So immediately after that great flood, I began devising escape plans and procuring things I may need to get myself (and hopefully others, to safety).
Hence, the rope (and the other things I bought since then).
I have two door accesses, so maybe I’m pretty safe in case of fire. But I have a third possible exit, the window. The only problem is that I will have to jump off and probably sustain fractures in order to escape. Realizing this, I bought a rope I could use in case my only exit left is the window.
Wild imagination? Maybe. But could you say that when all you needed to get to safety is a few meters of rope and you find yourself not having it?
I am not one who wouldn’t do my part and then blame the government for lack of preparedness. More than anyone, disaster preparedness is a function of families and individuals. Making sure that our place is safe is our responsibility, not the government’s. Moreover, sometimes, during emergency, the only way we could help in rescue efforts is by getting ourselves to safety on our own, so that rescue workers could focus on others who might be in worse situation.
Preparing for Emergency: Tips
1. Put your important documents (passports, contracts, IDs, etc) in a ready-to-grab bag, preferably waterproof) and let everyone in the house that it is first thing to be secured in case of emergency IF THERE IS STILL ENOUGH TIME. This was my brother’s idea actually and it has been our practice for years now. During Ondoy, our “Escape Docs” was one of the things that I secured and brought with me, my dad, and my nephew when we decided to abandon the house as the flood rose above waist level. It again worked to my advantage last year during a fire scare. A house two blocks away caught fire. Because the things I needed to bring out were properly identified beforehand and were ready-to-grab, I was able to add a few clothes for me and my brother who was away in my “escape kit.” In ten minutes, I was ready to leave the house. (It could have been faster if I wasn’t writing when the fire broke out. Since I was — and because I noticed I still had plenty of time before the fire would reach the house next to mine — I decided to shutdown my laptop properly first and secure it as well). Fortunately, the fire was put out by my neighbors before it spread.
2. Prepare emergency kits (clothes, extra IDs,) in ready-to-grab box. This is so that in case of emergency, you wouldn’t waste time thinking of what things to pack, and packing them. With things ready, you will have more time to think of other things you need to bring with you.
3. Have a disaster/rescue plan for your pets. When I saw the PDI picture of pets left behind by their owners during the Bulacan flooding last year, I realized more than ever that I don’t have the heart to leave my pets behind if the same thing happened to me. So I thought of ways in which I could save myself and my pets as well. The solution I thought of? A carrier that could contain them all and which I can easily carry along with my other things. It’s bulky, true, and it occupies a big portion of my closet-turned-stock-area. But that is the only way I think I can get them all out in case of emergency (instead of using one basket each and possibly fail to secure one or two of them in the process).
4. If you are not in your place (say you’re in a hotel, workplace etc), always take note of emergency exits. And it would be great also to discuss with your companions, especially children, your escape plans in case of emergency. Where to meet each other, or where to go to should you lose each other during the emergency and the chaos that might ensue.
5. Don’t panic. Tips 1-4 would be useless if you panic. In times of disaster, the only way you could increase your likelihood of escape is by keeping your mind. When you lose your mind during emergency, you not only put yourself but also others to more danger. And you might not be able to do the sensible thing to do during emergency.
There you have it: my five tips to preparing for emergency. What’s yours? Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to me @PENteaser.