I don’t mean to sound like a prophet of doom, I was just thinking of the Starks and you know…Winter is coming…get it? Haha! Okay, so that’s a bad one. But I was at ROX’s “Don’t let the big one hit you where it hurts” free earthquake preparedness seminar held at their branch in Bonifacio High Street the other night, and I want to get your attention so I can share with you the things I’ve learned that evening.
First of all, I’m sure you’ve heard of the West Valley Fault and the earthquakes that come every 200-400 years. According to Jom Daclan of UP Mountaineers Search and Rescue and main speaker for the evening, we’re on our 358th year. I know it sounds scary, believe me, when he started showing pictures of previous earthquake aftermaths and clips from videos taken of the same magnitude and intensity in Japan, I wasn’t too sure I wanted to be there because it was quite terrifying to see.
But I realized as we moved on to the topics on what you can do and what to expect, it was necessary to have a visual because when it happens, you need to be able to somehow “predict” the dangers so you can react accordingly.
Knowing is actually a better chance to surviving!
Same intensity for all of Metro Manila
Yup, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the West Valley Fault or away from it. All of Metro Manila will experience the same intensity – meaning, the experience, the shaking and all, that will be the same for all of us in Manila.
Jom differentiated magnitude from intensity and if I understood it correctly, magnitude is the force that will be generated from the ground, while intensity is the experience we have of it(?).
Which led me to ask as I write this on the significance of your location to the West Valley Fault since that’s been discussed over and over in the news and online.
When I checked Rappler, the difference will be on the motion that you will experience. If you’re living near the epicenter, the shaking will be up and down, while those farther away will experience side to side shaking.
West Valley Fault is pretty long. The longer the fault, the stronger the anticipated earthquake will be.
Landslides are expected in hill-y areas and for those living near Manila Bay, those along Roxas Boulevard to Taft avenue, when the big earthquake happens, you have to consider Tsunami, so make sure you know the elevated places to go to like tall buildings and trees.
When a strong earthquake occurs, don’t wait for warning signals. Once the shaking stops, climb to the highest place that you can get yourself on right away.
Jom Daclan says it only takes a few minutes for water to come, running away from it may not be the best way to deal with it.
The earthquake, often in itself, is not the danger
The media’s been pretty helpful in issuing warnings and updates on the earthquake but you can’t avoid misinformation especially if you don’t attend a seminar like this one. You’re going to have fears you shouldn’t have as opposed to the healthy fear that accommodates hope, presence of mind, and practical thinking.
Watching the video clips, I realized that the first thing anyone should look out for are falling objects. At home, I’ll be rearranging the house and interchange the heavy items on top with the light ones at the bottom.
It is also advisable to start bolting furnitures and fixtures on the wall if you can. I’ve asked Jay to ask our landlady if we can bolt ours to the wall. I’m pretty thankful we’re a minimalist family, we don’t have much to bolt, just a couple of lights shelves and a huge cupboard that’s not even ours.
Then there are fires. Fires are common during major earthquakes, so it’s something to look out for. Get a fire extinguisher and know how to use it.
I’ve also started regularly discussing with my kids about getting away from these things if ever they feel shaking and I think they’re pretty much getting it. In fact, wherever we are, I’d stop and ask, “if the earthquake happens right now, are you going to stay here?” And they look around and tell me yes, if there are no trees or huge objects that might fall on them, or no, if there are.
The government’s been doing something
In case you’re not aware, it was the government that commissioned all the studies on the pending earthquake and west valley fault. PHIVOLCS, along with seismologists from Japan, have been studying the possibilities to provide us a more accurate picture of what can happen and so they can figure out what to do to lessen the damage.
The government’s been doing a lot in terms of fixing and securing infrastructures, according to Jom Daclan. I’m not saying the buildings and the bridges aren’t going to fall down because some of them will. I’m no architect or engineer, but the government’s response to the earthquake has got to count for something.
Drop, Cover and Hold and other things…
We’ve been practicing this for some time and I didn’t get what “hold” was for. I only knew about dropping down in a crouching position and protecting your head and neck.
At the seminar, we were told to hold on to anything stable, especially the one we went under at, because a strong earthquake will really move the things from where they’re standing and the one you used for cover might move away from you.
So I had to practice that with my three kids all over again. You see, when you’ve got three kids 9, 6, and 4 years old, it’s good to practice. We do earthquake drills with them in the middle of the day just to make it a habit for them to head under the table and protect themselves.
By the way, Jom Daclan advises not to rely on external walls and stay away from roof extensions and anything that’s not going to hold and may fall on you.
Get those whistles ready!
We were given a list of what to put into our Emergency bags. List includes flashlight, dust mask, a first aid kit, bottled water, a whistle, cash (ATMs might be down), ID’s and documents, road maps, list of emergency contact numbers, snacks, food high in water and calories, extra batteries, personal hygiene supplies, folding knife, pliers, can opener, extra clothes, and comfort items like toys, crayons and writing materials, especially if you have kids.
Don’t forget to add info and instructions in your kids’ bags to help rescuers bring your kids to you.
Count your pets into your supplies! I, for one, wouldn’t want our beloved Max to go hungry.
Click here for a more complete list you can use as guide.
At the seminar, we were advised not to be overwhelmed, just do it an item at a time. We don’t have one here yet, and we plan to make 5. One for me and one for Jay in case we’re not together when it happens, and basic packs for all our three little kids. It’s going to cost, so we’re starting with one for us (adults) and one for the kiddos.
The whistle is very important as you may have to blow on it to signal to rescuers on where to find you. Go for the one without that little ball inside because if you lose that little ball, the whistle won’t work. We plan to let our kids carry whistles with them all the time as Jom Daclan does and to teach them how to give three blasts in cases of emergencies.
Stay put where you are
Wherever you are, it’s important to find a safe place to drop, cover, and hold nearest where you are. The magnitude we’re expecting is pretty strong, 7.2, with level VII intensity, so it will be risky for you to try to run somewhere else during the shaking.
A survivor of the Bagiuo killer quake was at the seminar and she shared that they tried to run down the stairs to get out but the hand rails they were trying to hold on to were getting pried off the walls and they could barely keep their balance.
She also seconded Jom’s advice to have a disaster plan with your kids so it will be easier for you to find them and for them to find you if you’re not together. She was very young back then and their family wasn’t prepared for it, so it took a while for their parents to get to her and her siblings.
Going back to staying where you are, you go out and head for the most open space you can go to after the shaking stops and stay out for at least 72 hours. Aftershocks are 1 magnitude lower and six is still pretty strong.
If you’re outside, go for the most open space you will find.
If you’re at the theater, crouch in place and protect your head and your neck.
If you have anyone in wheelchair with you, lock his wheels and help him to crouch in his chair and cover his head and neck.
Learn basic first aid. Your first aid kit will do you no good if you don’t know how to use it.
And if there’s another earthquake seminar near you, I suggest you go and attend it as it will really help teach you what to do to prepare and how to respond when it happens.
I’m really thankful that R.O.X. and the organizers of this event made the initiative to offer this. This event wasn’t for bloggers. It was announced on social media, open to anyone and everyone who want to learn how to prepare. I’m really glad I sent in an email and reserved a slot. Even Jay was able to catch the latter part of the seminar.
We’re on West Valley Fault, are you?
At least our subdivision is. We missed the radius by a few feet and it’s enough to make me paranoid. One evening, I fell asleep on the couch and I woke up to a loud bang from the kids’ playroom. I immediately rose and ran to the kids. Believe me, I know what scared means.
Heeding the wisdom of Jom Daclan, and two other disaster experts I’ve interviewed for a separate article I’ve written for an online parenting magazine, I’m going to try to connect to the village association to ask how we can work together to prepare for whatever disaster.
I also plan to approach our kids’ MAPEH school directors and try to help out in educating our kids.
I understand that there are things we cannot control, we can only do our best to prepare. And we can pray.
Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I strongly believe that if we focus on God’s Word and pray constantly, we can find peace despite news of impending disasters.
(Read: Earthquake alert:Preparing your little one for the Big One on Smart Parenting)
Thank you to Melo of R.O.X. for giving me a slot in the seminar and to the rest of the team who helped put it together.