ZAMBOANGA CITY, July 10 (PIA) - Nobody can predict disasters and calamities, but having a disaster go-bag can spell survival, officials here advocate.
While local governments, offices and commercial establishments have prepared disaster mitigating measures, officials reiterate that families themselves must be organized and prepared.
"People should really learn the value of being prepared," explains Office Civil Defense (OCD) Regional Director Manuel Luis Ochotorena during the Philippine Information Agency's Kapihan na Zamboanga. "The go-bag is very, very important."
The go-bag must have all essential survival items, explains Ochotorena. The bag, which may be a backpack or traveller's bag should have sufficient clothes of the members of the family, blankets, flashlight, a considerable amount of cash, medicines, bottled water, ready-to-eat foods (such as canned goods, crackers, cup noodles) that will last for at least 3 days, radio with batteries, mobile phones with all the important numbers, toiletries, important documents and a whistle.
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) Zamboanga chief Engr. Allan Labayog said a whistle is very important especially if by some instance a person gets trapped after an earthquake or any similar phenomenon.
"There is actually a 'whistle code' that everyone must learn," Labayog said. A one-whistle blow means "where are you?," two blows means "come to me" and three blows means "I need help."
Ochotorena adds that every member of the family must know the location of the go-bag for easy access.
Disaster-risk reduction officials have been reiterating for families to have a disaster plan in their own households. They must be oriented on the safe zones and where the evacuation centers are.
"Every family member including the children must know the family's disaster protocols. What's their plan when a disaster like earthquake would strike, and the family members are at their workplaces or in school? Do they have a rendezvous point where they can meet, especially when communications are down? Everyone must be oriented," Ochotorena said.
The Zamboanga Peninsula is located within the Pacific Ring of Fire, known as such due to the presence of several earthquake generators here. Ochotorena said aside from earthquakes, common calamities such as landslides and flooding must be prepared for.
July is observed as National Disaster Resiliency Month (NDRM), but both officials emphasize that "every day must be a disaster-preparedness day." (ALT/DIS/PIA9-Zamboanga City)