In the latter part of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, the world was rocked by natural disasters one after the other. First there was Typhoon Ondoy in September 2009, then the earthquake in Haiti, then within a couple of months, the earthquake in Chile. You know it happens anytime, anywhere. The problem is, you never think it will happen to you and your family.
“Disaster preparedness isn’t a one-time thing,” says Raffy Consunji, M.D., Critical Care and Trauma surgeon and president of Safe Kids Philippines. “It should be an automatic response. It helps if it’s not the first time you’re reacting to an emergency.” He explains that it’s like building a muscle. It takes practice to be prepared for disasters. He recommends that it be part of a family’s regular routine so that it makes a difference.
An-Marie Villarin, managing director of The Little Gym’s Terrific Tots Preschool Program, agrees, “In our school, we have a regular fire drill where we practice our exit routes. It helps that the kids know what to do when they hear the emergency bell. When you’re prepared, you don’t panic.”
Always think: Prevention “Practicing for emergencies and disasters is under-recognized,” admits Dr. Consunji. But he says it’s critical. In fact, it’s the only thing that will really save your family because at the point of impact, you will just go with your automatic response and gut feel. When an emergency happens, you go on automatic mode and that’s where the training and the habit of preparedness kicks in.
Villarin recommends that parents get to know their communities better: What are the areas that are prone to floods and earthquakes? What is the community’s agreed upon response? Is there a community plan?