Preparing for super typhoon ‘Ruby’

MORE than a year after the devastating super typhoon ‘Yolanda,’ residents of the most affected areas are still trying to recover from the havoc and destruction caused by the calamity.

A big number of the victims have been staying in ‘tent cities’ and shanties and have yet been able to find solid footing since. It’s sad to say, though, that even before our brothers and sisters in Tacloban and other cities may be able to find actual and permanent homes, another super typhoon has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility early morning yesterday.

PAGASA has reported that super typhoon Ruby was estimated at 860 km east of Surigao City as of 10 a.m. yesterday, with maximum winds of 195 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kph, and will continue to move towards Samar. Once again, it is the Visayas area and parts of Mindanao that will bear the brunt of the typhoon.

Learning from past experience, residents of the cities predicted to be hit by ‘Ruby’ have invested in preparing for the incoming calamity by stocking up on food and emergency equipment, securing their homes, or moving to higher ground if their homes are located in flood or landslide-prone areas. People are taking more precautionary steps this time around to help prevent a similar damage to occur once again, especially since recovery moves at a rather slow pace.

Typhoons, lately, have shown a great propensity to wreaking catastrophic damage – ‘Ondoy,’ ‘Sendong,’ and ‘Yolanda’ are proofs of that.

With the heavy fall of rain that may trigger landslides and the strong gusts of wind that can uproot trees and kick debris, lives could easily be claimed if one is not prepared. But aside from flooding, there are many other typhoon-related hazards such as starvation and dehydration, leptospirosis and other bacterial infections, as well as electrocution.

With the typhoon looking to hit the shores of a number of islands by Sunday, we have ample time to prepare ourselves for the rain.

What to do

Ideally, the first step in typhoon preparedness would be to stock up on groceries for the days that we will be forced to stay indoors.

However, I would suggest that we first check the location and surroundings of our homes. Check the elevation of your property and see if it is a flood-prone area. Also, check the surroundings of your house if there are any potential dangers such as tall trees or dangling electrical wires. The strong wind that accompanies typhoons could easily uproot old trees and other objects that are not secured.

If your home is unfortunately located in a low area, evacuate to higher ground. If your house is located in a flood-free area, it would be good to have an evacuation plan just in case of unpredicted flooding or if the structural integrity of the building is not able to withstand the typhoon.

Once you and your family are, more or less, secured in your home, build an emergency kit which should have, at the very least, flashlights, batteries, first-aid materials, and the like. Also, be sure to have cellular phones or any alternate form of communication ready.

Stocking up on food and potable water should already be a given. Clean water for sanitary purposes such as washing and flushing of toilets should also be stored.

Secure your property. Clear your surroundings of any piled up garbage, reinforce gates and doors, trim trees and shrubs, and clear all clogged gutters and canals. A number of times, flooding in urban areas is caused by plastics and trash that clog up our canals.

Safety tips

There are safety precautions to be taken during the event of a typhoon as well.

Keep yourself updated with the situation by radio or TV. Do not go out of your house even if it is seemingly quiet outside – it might just be a lull in the storm.

Stay indoors, specifically away from glass windows and doors as they may break and the broken shards could cause injury.

Do not drive around to look for food or other needed items. And as a courtesy to people working in fast-food restaurants, do not order delivery if you did not have the foresight to stock up on food.

Turn off all utilities and appliances. Expect that there will be power shortages and occasional blackouts. To prevent any damage to your appliances, unplug computers, television sets, and all other plugged appliances except for the refrigerator. Only unplug the refrigerator when there are no frozen items or when the power supply is very intermittent. Turn off propane tanks as well.

Avoid using phones and other expendable items except for emergencies. Do not use cellphones to play games as it might be your only way to communicate with people outside or to call for help. Telephone lines might be disrupted due to cables being destroyed by the wind. Likewise, cellphone signals might be weak due to the bad weather.

Do not wade in the water, especially if you have open wounds, as they might get infected by the bacteria and dirt found in and carried by flood waters. Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease caused by animal droppings and urine, have claimed a significant number of lives almost every typhoon.

Lastly, if you happen to be in a building, avoid using the elevators.

Though ‘Ruby’ is still at a distance where it could not cause any damage to the Philippines as of now, it is never too early to prepare for any inconvenience it brings along with it.

With the typhoon coming closer and closer to our vicinity, please be vigilant in times of distress. Our alertness and attentiveness could prevent fatalities and severe injuries. For now, stay updated with the weather and contact relatives and friends who may be living in danger-prone areas.

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