This year’s target under the UNISDR’s Sendai Seven Campaign is focused on the protection and reduction of the number of people affected globally by disasters. In line with this, “Home Safe Home” became the slogan of the 2017 International Day for Disaster Reduction, which further implies the importance of the family home as a safe refuge in times of disaster. However, aside from the physical aspect, a safer home can never be achieved without the active participation of families in disaster preparedness.
During a large-scale natural or human-induced disaster, all resources will be stretched to their limit and it will take some time for the government to respond to the needs of all affected communities. The Republic Act No. 10121, otherwise known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Law, states that the people within the barangays are the first responders during the occurrence of disasters. However, the widespread destruction can also delay responders even at the barangay level. These responders can either become victims or will choose to attend to the needs of their families first. It is also likely that they will gather their emergency teams and consolidate their undamaged resources before they can actually respond.
With this in mind, the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) emphasizes that emergency preparedness begins at home. It calls all families in every barangay to start preparing for any disaster. Furthermore, the organization urges families to organize their members and develop their own plans to avoid confusion and helplessness during emergencies. In accordance with the country’s bottom-up approach, the family preparedness plans should also be based on the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan (BDRRMP).
According to Ms. Nikki Antonette De Vera, the Head of CDP’s Training and Capacity Development Program:
“Safety starts at home. Filipinos are known for its strong family ties and these bonds make a community. We are striving for the ideal that families are well-informed, prepared and empowered to take action against disasters. With culture and good practices in the household-level combined, we can be assured that this translates to safety for all members of the family and community.”
As part of its advocacy, the organization also developed its own contingency plan and encouraged its staff to prepare their own emergency go bags at home and create a preparedness plan together with their families.
The following are the steps that can assist families in preparing for a wide range of natural and human-induced disasters that could impact them and their communities:
Prepare an Emergency Go Bag
When preparing for a possible emergency situation, ensure that you have the essential items necessary to sustain you and your family for three to four days. The basic contents of an emergency go bag include drinking water, non-perishable and easy to prepare food, flashlight, whistle, battery-powered radio, extra batteries, first aid kit, sanitation and personal hygiene items, extra clothes and undergarments, copies of personal documents, mobile phones with chargers, family and emergency contact information, extra cash and other specific items needed by family members.
Create a Family Preparedness Plan
Members of one’s family may not be together when a disaster occurred, so it is important to plan in advance. The plan can include how the family members will contact one another, the designated meeting place and the tasks assigned to each member.
There are specific actions for every hazard. Learn more about the potential hazards in your community and the appropriate ways to respond to them. Moreover, coordinate with your local government and with relevant national agencies for established emergency plans in your area, other information as well as updates.
We encourage families to explore other ways they can contribute to the enhancement of their community’s preparedness to disasters.