If you think about it, the winds and rains are not the scariest part of a typhoon in the Philippines.
It’s the chaos, the possibility of casualties, the likelihood of disease, and poor response that aggravates all these problems. That’s why it pays to be prepared for a typhoon and its consequences. If every member of the family knows what to do, they have a higher chance making it out of the storm, safe and sound.
When is the Philippine Typhoon Season?
Be on guard during the official Philippine typhoon season.
According to PAG-ASA, the peak of typhoon season runs from July to October, when about 70 percent of all typhoons develop. During this window, Filipinos can expect up to three tropical cyclones per month.
- Typhoon. If the maximum sustained winds fall between 118-220kph, the tropical cyclone is considered a typhoon.
- Super Typhoon. If the maximum sustained winds exceed 220kph, the tropical cyclone is classified as a super typhoon. Think Haiyan (Yolanda) and Goni (Rolly).
By the very nature of its geographical location, the Philippines is prone to typhoons. That’s why typhoon preparedness is essential in our country. Being prepared is your family’s best defense.
What to Do Before a Typhoon
Prepare Your Supplies
Stock your emergency kit. Set aside an emergency kit containing the following:
- Multi-purpose tool like a Swiss knife
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit with a full complement of bandages and medicine and other medical supplies to last your family up to a week (especially if someone has a condition which requires daily medication).
- Face masks and other COVID-19 essentials
- Sanitation and hygiene items (you don’t want to run out of toilet paper when there’s a chance the water could be shut off)
- A laminated card listing family and emergency contact information
- Cell phone (make sure it’s loaded if you’re on a prepaid plan)
- Extra cash.
Check and top up your food and water supplies. Prepare a good supply of:
- Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
- Potable water you won’t need to access the tap for
- Utensils for food preparation
- Covered pails filled with water in your bathroom (in case the water gets turned off in your area)
Prepare Your Home
- Cover your windows and draw your blinds or curtains. If you live in an area in the path of the storm, the winds could be strong enough to carry heavy debris. If these slam onto your window, they could break the glass and blow the shards into your home. Board up your windows or cover them with cardboard. Draw your blinds and curtains, too.
- Check your house’s drainage system for debris. An efficient drain reduces the chances of leaks and flooding.
- Secure valuables and electronics in upper levels. Anything you don’t want to risk immersing in water should be moved to a higher level, preferably an upper floor. Don’t stack things too high or to stack heavy items above shoulder level, as these could fall over and injure someone.
- Load a radio with batteries. In the Philippines, radio stations are the most reliable source of news during a typhoon. Make sure your radio isn’t reliant on roof-mounted satellites or cables that could be damaged by the storm.
- Charge up your power banks and emergency lights. Chances are you’ll lose power when the storm hits your area. And even if it doesn’t, you may still experience power outage afterward. So charge everything that can be charged before the storm hits.
- Identify an alternate safe area. Identify a safe place to go to, in case you need to evacuate. Make sure everyone knows what to do during typhoon evacuation.
Or if you are caught out in a storm, determine where you’re most likely to spend the night, like friend’s house nearby. As a courtesy, ask them ahead if it’s all right to stay with them until the storm blows over.
During a Typhoon
In the Household
- Stay inside as much as possible. Your home is the safest place to be; don’t go out unless extremely necessary. Visibility is poor, the roads are slippery, and the chances of accidents are high. Also, don’t leave your pets to the mercy of the elements. Let them stay inside with you.
- Keep everyone in your household calm. Panic-stricken people make more mistakes and cause more injuries. What’s more, family pets will most likely take their cue from you; if your family is calm, your pet will be too.
- Monitor local radio. Someone should monitor evacuation warnings and other typhoon updates, like unpassable roads. News also covers which parts of the Philippines bear the brunt of the storm.
- Be smart about food and water consumption. Consume perishables first, as you never know when the electricity might be cut. If the water is turned off in your area, use your reserves responsibly. Instead of bathing, do a sponge bath.
- Only use your mobile phone for important things. The power could go out at any time during a storm and may not be restored for days. But communications and updates are invaluable during a typhoon. So conserve your phone’s batteries, especially if you have a smartphone that rarely lasts a day without charging. Turn off non-essential functions like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular data, and avoid playing games, no matter how boring getting cooped up in the house might be.
Manage through Floods
- If it starts to flood, turn off the main power. You don’t want live outlets that could be waterlogged and charge the floodwaters in your home. So make sure all the adults know how to turn off the main power. If there’s an option to turn off power on the ground level while maintaining power on upper levels, all the better.
- If you must wade through flood waters, wash with clean water as soon as possible. If you have open wounds or sustain them while walking in the floods, disinfect and treat them right away.
- Be wary of live wires or water-logged outlets. These could charge the floodwaters in the area, so if you see that your ground floor is flooded above outlet level and you weren’t able to turn off the power to your home, don’t venture into the water, even if this is below knee level.
- Immediately tend to any injuries. Use the items in the emergency kit to tend to anyone who gets cuts or bruises from falling items or flying debris. And if anyone gets hit in the head, watch for symptoms of a concussion.
After a Typhoon
- Continue to monitor news sites, radio stations, or TV channels. This will keep you abreast of what roads are passable, what areas of the Philippines are still at risk, the current strength of the typhoon, and so on.
- Wear protective gear while dealing with debris. You don’t want to risk cutting yourself on rusty nails or pieces of tin from roofs or anything like that, so make sure you wear thick gloves (garden gloves should come in handy) when clearing your home of debris. You should also wear sturdy boots.
- Check for food or water contamination. If the power failed, throw out anything in your fridge that might have gone bad. Check your supply of potable water, and throw out anything that’s been exposed to rain water.
- Dump water that may have accumulated in containers like pots, cans, etc. Mosquitoes swarm after a storm. Don’t give them possible breeding grounds around your home. Clear anything that might hold stagnant water.
- Run a check on electrical appliances before using them. Electrocution is a real risk in the aftermath of a typhoon — and not many people know what to do. So have an electrician check the wiring in your home, as well as household appliances. Also, be sure that any electrical devices are thoroughly dried out before being used.
- Wear protective gear while dealing with debris. Don’t risk cutting yourself on rusty nails or pieces of tin from damaged roofs, so wear thick gloves (garden gloves will do) when clearing your home of debris. You should also wear sturdy boots.
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Liana Smith Bautista is an article writer, web content manager, manuscript copy editor, and blogger—and she thinks it's awesome that she earns her living marketing on her love for the written word.