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THE GO BAG: A Basic in Disaster Preparedness

By: Elmer Palomata, MD, RN, DPCOM – AVP for Provider Relations and Claims Administration

Next to two less-known Pacific countries Kingdom of Tonga and Republic of Vanuatu, the 2013 World Risk Report listed the Philippines as the third most disaster-prone out of 172 countries in the world. This is because of the inexhaustible number of natural calamities such as earthquakes, storms, floods, and volcano eruptions. Do you know that 2,010 earthquakes were recorded by PHIVOLCS in 2014, and that an average of eight or nine tropical storms make landfall in the Philippines each year, with another 10 entering Philippine waters? The cost and extent of property damage and the multitude of lives and homes lost can never be over-emphasized.

But how high we rank in 172 countries worldwide is not the point. The point is that emergencies and disasters are realities of nature that we cannot foresee, more so prepare enough for.

How prepared are you if a magnitude 7 hits the metro, and you are at work 15 kilometers from home? A know-how of at least the basic in disaster preparedness by each family member comes in handy during this time, giving you some degree of confidence about survival and safety.

Each type of disaster requires different measures to keep you safe. Among the many aspects of preparedness, below is a basic “Go Bag” suggestion that every household member is recommended to keep (and hope they will never use!). This is for situations which necessitate an extremely hasty evacuation, and it normally contains the items one would require to survive for at least seventy-two hours. It should be easily accessible at any given time

o Non-perishable food such as energy or granola bars, and bottled water. You may need a can opener for canned goods.
o Cellphone with charger, battery-powered or hand crank radio, flashlights, and extra batteries.
o Your personal medications and First aid kit;
o Whistle to signal for help, dust mask to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place;
o Important documents such as proof of residence, birth certificates, passports, pictures of your family, insurance policies, and family contact information in a waterproof container;
o Comfortable clothing and blankets, light-weight waterproof ponchos;
o A Swiss Army Knife as it comes with a use for various different tasks, and some matches;
o Some Cash in small bills.

It is also important to secure a list of contact information for your household, and identify with them one or two meeting places where you may converge after an incident. And do not forget to replace or refill your food and meds before it expires.

We may be able to spare our families and communities by recognizing that the threat of disasters is clear and present, that injuries and loss of lives entail a cost which is exponentially bigger as compared to if the community is equipped with at least a basic knowledge on what to do, and that a properly-implemented plan and readiness is a way of meeting this threat that we do not have control over.

More than your Go-Bag, also find interest in learning CPR, basic first aid, how to use a fire extinguisher, how to make use of available resources, among others. Increase awareness, develop actions plans and practice them. It is better to be a responder than becoming a victim. Be ready at home, be ready at work.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your family, therefore, is to be prepared. And preparedness begins at home.

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