PREPAREDNESS AND SAFETY TIPS
The Pacific typhoon season poses an annual threat to the ASEAN region, with Member States such as Lao PDR, Thailand, Viet Nam, and in particular the Philippines often experiencing the brunt of large typhoons and tropical storms – usually between the months of May to October. Numerous typhoons and tropical storms also form in the Northern Pacific (Bay of Bengal) region, often striking Myanmar and other nearby nations from the west of ASEAN. 2018 displayed the potential impact of such events, with Typhoon Mangkhut and Tropical Storm Son Tinh affecting ASEAN communities, not only through the initial impact of the storms, but also the resulting disasters such as flood and landslides caused by the heavy rain and winds. Through its activities during the advance of Typhoon Mangkhut, the Philippines evidenced the benefit of preparedness measures in the typhoon season, providing inspiration for the following tips on typhoon preparedness and safety measures.
WHEN A TYPHOON IS NEAR
Understanding and preparedness can play a significant role in minimising damage and loss of life when large storms are baring down. Strong planning and coordination between governments, communities and disaster management bodies such as the AHA Centre can go a long way towards ensuring the people of ASEAN and their livelihoods remain stable even in the face of super typhoon and tropical storm events. Organisations such as the AHA Centre and national governments have the technology and knowledge to track the progress of impending typhoon and storm cells, therefore information sharing and awareness is imperative for preparedness.
1. MONITOR INFORMATION
Identify your local news outlet and information channels from your local government and disaster management authorities, and follow the information and any directions (particularly orders to evacuate) during the days leading-up to the storm’s landfall.
2. PREPARE YOUR HOME
Your home is a place of refuge during a storm, as well as something to return to if you are ordered to evacuate. Boarding up windows and removing overhanging trees can go a long way to minimising damage to your place of residence.
3. PREPARE TO WAIT IT OUT
Once an impending typhoon is near, staying in your home is the only option, therefore a safe place on the ground floor away from windows and doors should be identified. It is best to organise food, water and medical supplies in advance, as it may be some time before the storm clears and emergency teams can access your local area to provide further support.
4. PREPARE A GRAB-BAG
Having a Grab-Bag is imperative should you be ordered to evacuate at short notice. It should contain water, nutritional food/snacks, spare warm clothes, a torch, a communication device, and important medication.
5. HARVEST AND SECURE
For farmers or fishermans, it is recommended to harvest available crops in the days leading-up to a typhoon’s landfall, fishing boats and other important farming equipment should be secured and tied-down in a safe place, to ensure increased ability to return to economic activities once the worst has passed.
DURING AND AFTER A TYPHOON
Whether you are in your home or forced to evacuate, your decisions can determine your safety during the event of disaster.
1. IN THE HOME
If in your home, confine yourself to the determined safe space away from windows on the ground floor, with all doors and windows closed and covered. Turn off gas and electricity sources, and wait calmly until the worst has passed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull in the storm, as it may be the storm’s eye or a moment of respite. Once conditions have calmed for a number of hours, it is then safe to say that you have survived the worst. Remember, however, to be aware of secondary disasters such as flood and landslide that may threaten your immediate surrounds.
In the days leading-up to the typhoon’s landfall you may be requested to evacuate to a nearby safe location appointed by your local government or disaster management body. It is recommended to follow all orders and requests completely, as such decisions are made based on the most relevant and technical information available, and with the best interests of community safety in mind. Pack your important belongings and your Grab-Bag, and follow all orders from authorities calmly and in an orderly fashion.
AFTER THE STORM
If planning to return from evacuation shelters, only do so when given the all-clear by the relevant authorities. When arriving home, monitor your property from the outside, check for damage to the structure of your house, and also to cables or pipes for electricity and gas. For those waiting-out the storm at home, the same applies as for evacuees. Check your home’s structure and potential leaks or breaks in utility supplies, wait for contact from emergency services, and at all times remain aware of potential secondary disasters.
Written by: Will Shea