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  • 'My Daughter and I Were on the 33rd Floor When the Earthquake Happened. I Was Not Prepared'

    This mom learned how to prepare for emergencies the hard way.
    by Din Real Bautista .
'My Daughter and I Were on the 33rd Floor When the Earthquake Happened. I Was Not Prepared'
PHOTO BY iStock
  • It was a regular afternoon. My 2-year-old daughter and I were beside each other — I was doing some work on my laptop, and my daughter was coloring and playing with stickers. Suddenly, I felt some shaking and moving — it was an earthquake.

    I sat still and thought to myself, “This won’t last long.” But it didn’t stop. It kept on going, and I started to get scared — we live on the 33rd floor of a condominium. 

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    My daughter and I immediately ducked under the dining table. My heart was pounding because it was just the two of us. My daughter's presence forced me NOT to panic — I didn’t want my daughter to see me in that state, and I didn’t want her to feel scared. All I kept saying was, “Monica, hold my hand. It’s crazy, we’re moving, it’s shaking. Hold on to mommy.” I saw her confused face, but she didn’t move under the table.

    Then, I heard our door open. My husband was home! I immediately told him about the earthquake, and he quickly realized what just happened to him. He was feeling dizzy because the elevator was shaking. Then, it stopped working by the time it reached our floor! He didn't understand what happened until I told him there was an earthquake.

    My husband said we should go down the building, and we were in such a hurry that the only thing we grabbed was water, our phones, and a power bank. We used the stairs, and adrenalin kept us going from the 33rd floor to the ground while carrying a toddler.

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    When we reached the ground floor, many people were there already, looking confused, scared, and paranoid.

    I saw a friend of ours, and they had a big bag with them. I jokingly said, “Wow, iba rin talaga, may pa-bag!” But my mommy friend replied, “We have a prepared 'Go' bag, sis.”

    I was stunned. My friend had an emergency bag while we...didn’t have anything. If it were a major earthquake, we would have been caught unprepared. It was an eye-opener.

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    How to be emergency ready

    I thought I had it all covered, that I would have the presence of mind when it comes to emergencies. Sadly, our readiness was not on par with others. I had read a lot of articles about what to pack in an emergency bag and what to do in case of a disaster. I didn’t pay enough attention to being emergency ready. It meant no room for complacency. We learned our lesson.

    I am not an expert, and I am talking only based on my experience, but I realized I should have handled the situation better. Here are some of the things we all need to keep in mind in case an emergency happens:

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    1. Don’t panic.

    It may be challenging given the situation, but if we prepare ourselves enough, we would have a clear mind when disaster strikes. Stay calm and brace yourself for aftershocks.

    2. Drop, cover, and hold on.

    Go on your knees, drop to the ground, and get under a heavy bed, sturdy desk, or table.

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    3. Practice with your family.

    If you want the whole family to be levelheaded in times of a disaster, every member must practice and have their own drill. Agree on a meeting place in case family members get separated.

    4. Leave immediately once the shaking stops.

    Grab your emergency bag and head to your building’s emergency exit. Use the stairs and not the elevators. 

    5. Pack an emergency bag — now.

    Your emergency bag should have the following: flashlight, power bank, whistle, canned goods, biscuits and water (replace every six months), first aid kit, necessary medication, extra clothes, and underwear for the whole family. Put relevant documents like birth and marriage certificates inside a Ziplock, with a piece of paper with your contact details and some money inside. If you have a toddler, add a small toy and book, and a blanket. (If you have a baby, click here for essentials you’ll need to add in your Go bag.)

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    It’s a shame that it took an awful earthquake to make me think of doing all these, but at least it’s not yet too late. I feel so sorry for those who were severely affected and for those who lost loved ones. I cannot imagine the pain and challenges they will go through.

    We are still lucky, and I’m so relieved that I was with my daughter when the earthquake occurred. I cannot imagine the panic I would have felt if she was not with me. But now that she witnessed it firsthand, she now knows what an earthquake is, and I can easily teach her what to do if another one happens. We’re safe, and we know better this time.

    Din Real Bautista is a proud full-time homemaker. Most of the time, she’s busy raising a kind-hearted and strong human being named Monica together with the most amazing husband, Beejay. And the rest of her time, she’s making sure her life is better outside social media.

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