Disaster and emergency preparations for the elderly
What seniors need to know in times of calamity

With the rainy season coming in at full swing, heavy rains could come at any moment and bring with it disasters such as typhoons and flooding. Plus, everyone is waiting with bated breath for “The Big One.”

It’s good to see that people are beginning to take actions in preparing themselves for the inevitable arrivals of disasters, but unfortunately there are some, like the elderly, who still do not know what to do when it comes to emergency situations.

As such, SM Cares has devised a forum which will go around select SM Malls inviting senior citizens to attend so they may know the proper response to calamities such as earthquakes and flooding. Such an initiative falls in line with the 11th Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations: to make settlements safe and sustainable.

Invited to facilitate the forum are DOST undersecretary and PHILVOLCS director Dr. Renato Solidum Jr., who will share the different kinds of calamities and the situations that arise from them, and rescue analyst Dr. Ted Esguerra, who will demonstrate an array of survival methods whenever a disaster hits.

Preparing for “The Big One”

According to Solidum, the problem is people don’t imagine what could happen in a calamity such as an earthquake. He cited the 1968 Casiguran earthquake, which many seniors remember to this day, because of the collapse of the Ruby Tower in Manila. Thus, he gave a list of earthquake preparedness measures:

  1. Identify the hazards at home
    • anything that could lead to falls, fires, etc.
  2. Check the location and construction of your home/workplace
  3. Prepare your home/workplace for earthquakes
    • Arrange furniture, and keep heavy objects away from shelves
  4. Imagine the area post-disaster and make an evacuation plan
  5. Discuss with family and officemates what to do in emergencies
    • Assign roles and safe zones
  6. Have an emergency bag/survival kit
    • first aid, food & water, medicine, flashlight, etc.
  7. Know the proper response in earthquakes
    • duck-cover-hold, don’t panic
    • open an exit door, turn off all stoves
  8. Prepare for aftershocks and fires. Bring your emergency kit and evacuate
  9. Assess the environment post-earthquake
  10. Get the correct information during emergencies
Survival lifelines

It is easy for most people to be aware and evacuate during an emergency situation, but seniors may find it difficult which is why Esguerra taught senior-friendly ways of surviving disasters through various simulations – he even invited people in the audience to participate so they can actually get the feel of the exercise.

One of the biggest key points Esguerra shared, apart from the typical duck-cover-hold during earthquakes, is Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) and to capitalize on eyesight. He also demonstrated the kneel-look-sprint, so that seniors can evacuate quickly in an unsafe environment.

“Our senior citizens may face challenges during an emergency, especially if they are misinformed. It is our goal to eliminate most, if not all, anticipated obstacles,” said SM Cares Director for Senior Citizens Danilo Chavez. As Esguerra said, “Ang paghahanda ay ang presyo sa sarili (Being prepared is the value you give yourself).”

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