2013 Disaster Preparedness Week (June 10 – 16, 2013) Be Prepared for Rain-Flood-Wind Emergencies and Disasters (RFWED) – To Travel or Not to Place of Work

2013 Disaster Preparedness Week (June 10 – 16, 2013)

Be Prepared for Rain-Flood-Wind Emergencies and Disasters (RFWED) – To Travel or Not to Place of Work

Reynaldo O. Joson, MD

June 10 – 12, 2013

As far as I know, this is the first time that the Philippines has an official “Disaster Preparedness Week.” Traditionally, it has the National Disaster Consciousness Month in July and closely related to this, a Fire Prevention Month in March, Climate Change Consciousness Week in November, and National Health Emergency Preparedness Day in December . The “Disaster Preparedness Week” was declared by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in time for the onset of rainy or wet season in the Philippines. The “Week” is from June 10, to 16, 2013. Although the “Disaster” is for all kinds, DILG is focusing on the disasters that are associated with the rainy season. Furthermore, the emphasis of the DILG’s campaign is on the estimated 60,000 informal settler-families in the National Capital Region who live on waterways or on the side of waterways. I support the initiative of the DILG and I would like to do my share in advocating the disaster preparedness outside the informal settler-families and waterways setting.

Be prepared for the Rain-Flood-Wind Emergencies and Disasters (RFWED) during the wet season which, by the way, officially started on June 10, 2013, as declared by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).  Be prepared for the RFWED with the goals of prevention, mitigation, and preparedness to respond and recover in case they unavoidably occur so that resulting injuries and diseases, loss of properties, and other negative consequences are kept to a minimum level.

In this advocacy writing, I will focus on another aspect of the emergency and disaster reduction concerns that is commonly associated with the wet season.  The focal stakeholder group here is the general adult workers residing in Metro Manila who have to decide whether to stay put or to travel by land from one place to another whenever there is rain.  Offhand, I like to say that staying put and waiting for the RFWED to pass is a better strategy for the adult workers to adopt.   It has a greater chance in avoiding injuries and diseases unless the place of residence and workplace are already affected by the RFWED and are evidently not safe to stay in.

Below are my narrative recommendations (to be converted to checklists):

To travel or not from residence to workplace and vice-versa:

  1. Monitor the weather situation daily and on planned intervals within the day if indicated (such as every 6 hours) on the risk of encountering a Rain-Flood-Wind (RFW) situation.  Do not limit monitoring to public storms warning signals. Extend monitoring to any possibility of rain, regardless of intensity.

Here are some recommended ways to monitor and assess the weather situation to help one decide whether to stay put or to travel by land to another place in the Metro Manila (MM):

    1. Look outside the residence or workplace.  See if it is raining or not.  If it is raining, what is the intensity of the rain, light, moderate, or heavy? If it is not raining, look at the sky and the clouds and determine whether it is going to rain or not.
    2. Know the most current advisories from PAGASA and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on the rain-flood-wind situation in MM and in specific areas of concern particularly, residence, workplace, and path of travel.  Visit the websites of PAGASA http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph) and MMDA (http://www.mmda.gov.ph) by whatever means (computers, cellphones, tablets, etc.)  Follow the tweets of these two agencies (https://twitter.com/DOST_PAGASA and (https://twitter.com/MMDA).  Listen to the radio and television for the advisories from PAGASA and MMDA.
    3. Know the most current rain-flood-wind situation in areas of concern (residence, workplace, and path of travel) by communicating with people currently situated in the areas or those who know the status of the areas. Know the flood-prone areas in MM and in the path of travel. Have contact numbers (especially cellphone numbers) of people who are in these areas of concerns.
  1. Make a risk assessment in terms of low, moderate, and high risk to travel.

Any or all of the following situations, if present, constitute high risk to travel: 1) public storm warning signal nos. 3 and 4; 2) RED rainfall warning signal; 3) presence of flood with a level which causes roads in the path of travel to be impassable by all kinds of motor vehicles; and 4) presence of flood in the perimeter of or adjacent to the workplace or residence with a level that makes all kinds of motor vehicles dangerous to reach.  If one or a combination of the abovementioned situations is present, the recommendation is to stay put and not to travel.

A low risk to travel is said to be present if any or all of the following situations are present: 1) public storm warning signal no. 1; 2) YELLOW rainfall warning signal; 3) presence of flood in the path of travel and perimeter of the workplace and residence that is passable to light motor vehicles. The recommendation is that one can travel if one has to.

A moderate risk to travel is said to be present if any or all of the following situations are present: 1) public storm warning signal no. 2; 2) ORANGE rainfall warning signal; 3) presence of flood in the path of travel and perimeter of the workplace and residence that is only passable with the use of at least vans or sports utility vehicles (SUV). The recommendation is to stay put as much as possible.

Below is a checklist on the abovementioned recommendations:

Rain-Flood-Wind Situation Monitoring and Risk Assessment and Action / Decision Checklist and Evaluation.

Steps

Recommendations

Action / Decision

Consequence, if any

Monitoring for RFW situation
Personal evaluation Looking outside of residence or workplace (raining / will rain – clue in sky) Done / not done
PAGASA Advisories http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.phhttps://twitter.com/DOST_PAGASA Done / not done
MMDA Advisories http://www.mmda.gov.phhttps://twitter.com/MMDA Done / not done
Contact persons in areas of concerns Residence – persons / contact nos.Path of Travel – persons / contact nos.

Workplace – persons / contact nos.

Done / not done
RFW Risk Assessment*

Low

May travel Travel / Not travel

Moderate

As much as possible stay put Travel / Not travel

High

Stay put Travel / Not travel

*See parameters for different levels of risk.

What to do if one is caught in a FLOODED path of travel:

If one is driving a car (a sedan – not van; not SUV; not jeep; not truck; etc.):

  1. Do not drive the car through a flood whose level is more than a foot high, more so, if it covers more than half of the tire.
  2. Stop, back up, decide on another route or park the car in an area away and not reachable by the flood.
  3. Monitor the progress of the flood.  Know most current advisories from PAGASA and MMDA. Wait hopefully for the flood to subside before resuming drive.
  4. Call up relevant and significant people, give information on whereabouts and plans of action, and give intermittent updates.

If one is walking:

  • Do not wade through flood water as much as possible.
    1. Back up; try another route; get into a vehicle that can pass through the flood; or just wait in a near-by establishment or building and wait for the flood to subside.
    2. While waiting, monitor the progress of the flood.  Know most current advisories from PAGASA and MMDA.
    3. Call up relevant and significant people, give information on whereabouts and plans of action, and give intermittent updates.
  • Do not wade through the flood water if there is /are wounds on the feet, legs, and thighs.  There is a moderate to high risk for getting a disease known as leptospirosis.  If one is forced to wade through flood water without protective pair of shoes (rubber boots), wash thoroughly with soap and water and immediately, the parts of the body that came into contact with the flood waters.
  • If one has to wade through flood water, wear a pair of rubber boots (to avoid diseases, particularly, leptospirosis); use a stick to poke the ground in front with each step to determine the bottom surface (to avoid injuries); and stay away from fallen electric wires (to avoid electrocution).

Below is a checklist on the abovementioned recommendations:

What to do if one is caught in a FLOODED path of travel checklist and evaluation (IF ONE IS DRIVING A CAR – SEDAN).

Recommendations

Action / Decision

Consequence, if any

Do not drive the car through a flood whose level is more than a foot high, more so, if it covers more than half of the tire.
Stop, back up, decide on another route or park the car in an area away and not reachable by the flood.
Monitor the progress of the flood.  Know most current advisories from PAGASA and MMDA. Wait hopefully for the flood to subside before resuming drive.
Call up relevant and significant people, give information on whereabouts and plans of action, and give intermittent updates.

What to do if one is caught in a FLOODED path of travel checklist and evaluation (IF ONE IS WALKING).

Recommendations

Action / Decision

Consequence, if any

Do not wade through flood water as much as possible. 
  1. Back up; try another route; get into a vehicle that can pass through the flood; or just wait in a near-by establishment or building and wait for the flood to subside.
  1. While waiting, monitor the progress of the flood.  Know most current advisories from PAGASA and MMDA.
  1. Call up relevant and significant people, give information on whereabouts and plans of action, and give intermittent updates.
Do not wade through the flood water if there is /are wounds on the feet, legs, and thighs.
  • If one is forced to wade through flood water without protective pair of shoes (rubber boots), wash thoroughly with soap and water and immediately, the parts of the body that came into contact with the flood waters.
If one has to wade through flood water, wear a pair of rubber boots (to avoid diseases, particularly, leptospirosis).
If one has to wade through flood water,  use a stick to poke the ground in front with each step to determine the bottom surface (to avoid injuries).
If one has to wade through flood water, stay away from fallen electric wires (to avoid electrocution).

Checklist of paraphernalia needed for the Rain-Flood-Wind Emergencies and Disasters Preparedness.

Paraphernalia

Residence

Path of Travel

Workplace

If driving a car

If walking

PAGASA advisories

MMDA advisories

Contact Persons in areas of concerns advisories

Cellphone (charged) – bring charger whenever traveling during RFW situation

Contact numbers of all parties needed to communicate with (see above)

Umbrella

Raincoat

Jacket

Towel and extra clothing

Rubber boots

√√

√√

√√

Stick / rod

Emergency money

√√

√√

√√

Flashlight

√√

√√ (in car)

√√

Matches / candles

Whistle

Car in good running condition

Flood exits

Others (as needed)
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