Can we be Disaster Free?

In November, Benguet Province’s festival ‘Adivay’ was celebrated with a heavy heart, but full of hope, as it reminds us to be strong after the disaster, through its theme: “Benguet Culture – Unity, Industry, Prosperity: Managing Adversities with excellence thru enhanced Indigenous Resilience”. The celebration was full of traditional prayers for a single goal: A Disaster free Benguet in the future.

In order to attain the goal, you can always help. In your own simple way, manage or eliminate the Hazard you see, so that nothing will ever become a Disaster. This is what the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management of La Trinidad is doing now through various programs, projects, and activities. When the hazard can’t be eliminated, at least make everyone prepare for its adverse effects or ensure the resiliency of the community.

But before anything yet, I think there is still a confusion on what the word Hazards and Disasters means to everyone. As I always emphasize during my lectures on topics for Preparedness, we do not want to use the word ‘Disaster’. This word is only used to indicate that there is Loss of Lives and Damages to Properties that happened, and we don’t want that, or do you?

So what word concerns you?

Disasters are caused by Hazards. So, when you don’t want a Disaster, you have to know a lot about Hazards, talk about it, manage it properly, or, better yet, eliminate it.

Hazards are those that can cause a Disaster. There can be no Disaster if there are no Hazards. Steep slopes around your home’s yard is an example. Hanging boulders, Denudated Forests, Clogged Canals, Dilapidated Roofs of your house, Electrical Wirings, etc. are some. When these are not managed, eliminated, or fixed, it may cause severe damage which will already be called a Disaster.

Now, since the Philippines is Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and Pacific Typhoon Belt, we do have a lot of bigger hazards to manage, aside from those mentioned above. Weather Disturbances such as Typhoons is on the top list, followed by Earthquakes, and Volcanic Eruptions.

Of course you cannot stop Typhoons or earthquakes. But you can still do something so that these Hazards won’t become a Disaster. You can always prepare! There is a lot of time before a Hazard becomes a Disaster (if it should). Recall TY Ompong – Public advisories were disseminated and preparations were done before it arrived. Class Suspended, Liquor Banned, etc., even when there is no rain yet, to give time to preparations for the hazards, so it won’t cause a Disaster.

Your preparations in your home is the first best thing to do to prevent a disaster from happening: Know your Hazard; Transfer your valuable things where there’s no flooding; Always ensure free flow of water on Canals; Construct your slope protections on steep slopes; Purchase supplies and equipment that you need; Have a Go Bag that is available anytime; be sure to have the complete set of emergency numbers to call, just in case; and better evacuate as early when the typhoon has not yet arrived. Consider your experience during TY Ompong. Remember that Balili River overflowed causing flood in the Valley and mountains saturated causing massive landslide everywhere.

Prepare your Farms too: Fix its drainage system, Use materials that can resist strong wind and rains, reduce steep slopes, and avail of available crop insurance to make sure that you will have something to start with, in case hazards will damage your crops. (You may contact The Office of the Municipal Agriculturist for assistance).

When in other areas you are not so familiar with, (i.e. Swimming pools, Beach, Resorts, Training Halls, Restaurants, Hotels, Tourist Destinations, etc.) prioritize to learn the hazards upon arrival and know how to get away from them by looking for possible escape routes and emergency numbers.

Preventing Disaster is possible when Hazards are managed. Start the practice this Yuletide Season. Avoid the hazards, or eliminate them, and your Celebration will be the best that it can be.

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