Do’s and Don’ts when Disaster Strikes - SunStar

Do’s and Don’ts when Disaster Strikes

By Deneb R. Batucan and Patricia May P. Catan


AS MUCH as we want to stop bad things from happening, we can’t. Disasters are a part of life. Calamities like typhoons and earthquakes could happen and disrupt our everyday lives. Fires, earthquakes or terrorist acts could turn our world upside down. These are all possibilities that our future could hold. But what could we do?

Not only should we prepare physically for disasters, we must also have the right mindset (for instance having presence of mind and controlling one’s urge to take selfies in the middle of a calamity). As they say, expect the worst, but hope for the best. Our safety and the safety of those who are dear to us come first. SunStar Weekend lists down the dos and don’ts to help you in case of an earthquake, fire, typhoon or a terrorist attack.



1. Drop, cover and hold. Drop to the ground; take cover under a stable table or any other furniture; hold on until the shaking stops. If a table or desk is unavailable then protect your head and face with your arms in an inside corner of a building or home.

2. Always stay away from glass windows, doors, mirrors, falling bricks or stones to keep you safe from fatal injuries. When in an open area, keep away from unstable buildings, balconies and other projections.

3. If in a moving vehicle, stop immediately when safety permits and stay inside the shelter of your vehicle. Take note not to stop near or under buildings, big trees, overpasses, and utility wires.

4. Keep in mind to stay inside until the shaking stops or until it’s safe to go outside. According to research, most injuries take place when people inside buildings attempt to relocate to a different location inside any structure or try to leave.

5. Always be on your toes and be alert when aftershocks follow. These aftershocks may be as strong as the previous earthquake and being complacent won’t save your worries.


1. First and foremost, don’t panic. Composing yourself while an earthquake is currently happening may be the hardest thing to do, but by keeping yourself calm during this unfortunate situation will positively save your life because your mind is on the right state.

2. When you feel the ground shaking and you’re situated on a high-rise building, do not take the lift. Get out on the next floor if you’re on an elevator during an earthquake then take the stairs down.

3. If you are at home or inside a building, do not rush to the doors or exits, but make sure to keep yourself away from windows, mirrors, chimneys, and furniture.

4. Do not run and wander through the streets because there may be unstable buildings, establishments or even lampposts that will suddenly collapse.

5. Sending a text message would be a great option rather than making a call. Our first instinct when a disaster hits is to immediately call our loved ones and make sure they’re fine. Although it’s natural to feel concerned over our family and friends, it is advisable not to use the phone lines to call too much because it may hinder important communication.




1. When you find yourself in a fire at home, work or in school, make sure to escape the place first. When your outside and free from danger, immediately call for the fire department.

2. It’s protocol for every establishment to discuss routes in case emergencies happen. As a responsible worker or citizen, it is always recommended to familiarize yourself with the escape routes or exits so you’ll know where to go in cases like these.

3. Composed and calm are the magic words to escape without serious injuries. Always remember to calmly evacuate any place when a fire alarm goes off or a carbon monoxide alarm sounds.

4. Stay low to the floor when smoke starts to build up in a place you’re located or when you’re on your way to evacuate the place.

5. It’s always best to know where the fire extinguishers are during a fire alarm so that you can initially help with putting out the fire, but make sure that you have enough knowledge on how to use such equipment.


1. Similar to any other emergencies, do not use the elevators during an evacuation. Smoke may be trapped inside since it’s an enclosed area and too much smoke is hazardous which may cause fatal problems.

2. Don’t leave candles, barbecue grills or other open flames unattended to avoid any fire to break.

3. Your life matters more than your material possessions. Always put yourself first when a fire alarm sounds. Do not collect your things while you evacuate because other than it causes extra baggage, your life can’t be replaced unlike these material things.

4. Do not return to the affected area when you have evacuated. Let the firemen do their job because they have been trained for it. In short, don’t risk your life.

5. When a fire alarm breaks, do not hide in any room or any closed area, but always try to find an escape route or proceed immediately to the emergency exit.




1. Stay indoors. Going out with the rough weather could lead to a lot of accidents. Make sure to have everyone in a calm state to avoid injuries or worse. This includes your pets — place them inside the house where they will feel safer than outside with the elements surrounding them.

2. Secure a battery-operated radio. Always be up-to-date with the latest weather reports to monitor the safety of your area.

3. Stock up your emergency kit. This includes flashlights, extra batteries, power banks, a fully-stocked first-aid kit, sanitation and hygiene items, a cell phone/s and charger/s and extra cash.

4. Make sure to have enough food and water. Stock up on these necessities for at least a week’s worth just to be safe. Don’t forget to include a can opener or a Swiss knife to open up your canned goods. Fill up pails of water inside your bathroom in case the water supply is turned off, but be sure to put a lid on them to avoid breeding grounds of dengue mosquitos. Also, ration out the food; you don’t want to starve in case the storm would last longer.

5. If flooding occurs, turn off the main power. Make sure all the adults in the household know how to turn off the main power source to avoid waterlogged outlets to charge any flood water in your home.


1. Do keep calm. Keep your sanity in check. You can’t save your loved ones from harm if you’re not in the right mind.

2. Don’t go through flood waters that are near live wires or waterlogged outlets. This could lead to electrocution as the electricity could charge the flood water. If the ground floor of your house is getting flooded, be sure to turn off the main power switch.

3. In case of injuries, don’t let them sit for a long while. Most especially if you’re surrounded by flood waters, don’t let injuries sit long without tending to avoid infection. Rinse and disinfect cuts immediately. If someone has a head injury, check for symptoms of concussion.

4. Don’t use wet appliances or electronic devices immediately after the floods subside. Dry them out and clean them before using again as it could cause more damage to use the items while still wet.

5. Don’t drink water directly. Boil water before drinking as it may be contaminated by flood water. Better safe than sorry. Also, throw out all food that may have gone bad as well as things that could be breeding grounds of mosquitos like tires, pots, etc.


Terror attack


1. Stay calm. This is easier said than done, but panicking would lead to more danger. Stay focused at all times.

2. Keep updated. Secure a radio or TV to know on the terror situation.

3. Do your usual daily routine but be more safety-conscious. Know your security personnel, fire alarms and emergency exits by heart.

4. If you see someone acting suspicious or perhaps an unknown package, report to the security guards and police. Unlike you, they are trained on how to go about such things. Don’t be a hero. It could cause damage to you and the people around you.

5. In case of explosion, take cover. Hide under a sturdy table or desk if things are falling around you. If things have quieted down, leave immediately. Watch out for weakened floors, stairways and falling debris.


1. Avoid calling anyone. It could disrupt the communication lines from more important sources. Try to send text messages instead.

2. Avoid unattended cars, trucks or other vehicles. These might contain explosives.

3. If you’re in a crowd, do not run. This could cause panic or you may be suspected as the bomber. Instead, stay at the fringes and calmly walk to safety.

4. Do not manage the situation by yourself. While you have the best intentions, you are not trained to manage terrorist attacks. Call the police or security personnel instead.

5. Don’t stand in front of hazardous areas. There are glass windows or doors and the like. Take cover, be it be under a table or down a basement.

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