Typhoon survival guide: Before, during and after

·Contributor
·5 min read
FILE PHOTO: Woman receiving supplemental oxygen reacts as rescuers evacuate her from a submerged village during Typhoon Vamco in Marikina on November 12, 2020. (Source: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
FILE PHOTO: Woman receiving supplemental oxygen reacts as rescuers evacuate her from a submerged village during Typhoon Ulysses (international name Vamco) in Marikina on November 12, 2020. (Source: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

Because of its geographic location along the Pacific’s typhoon belt, the Philippines is prone to tropical storms. Every year, the country is hit by an average of 20 typhoons, five of which are considered destructive. 

Typhoons are most common from August through October, though storms can hit as late as January. Climate change has exacerbated this and now strong typhoons can now strike at any time of year.

Typhoons can wreak havoc on coastlines and up to several hundred kilometers inland. They can generate gusts of up to 250 kph (155 mph), as well as tornadoes and microbursts. Typhoons can also cause storm surges along the coast, as well as major damage from torrential rain.

Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan), the deadliest storm in the country's modern history, caused a storm surge in Eastern Visayas in November 2013 killing at least 6,000 people in its path.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) declared the start of the rainy season in the first week of June.

Here are some things you need to know to stay safe before, during and after typhoons.

Typhoon preparations

FILE PHOTO: Houses, partially submerged in floods waters caused by heavy rains brought by Typhoon Lando (international name Koppu), are seen in City Camp Lagoon at Baguio city, on October 19, 2015. (Source: REUTERS/Harley Palangchao)
FILE PHOTO: Houses, partially submerged in floods waters caused by heavy rains brought by Typhoon Lando (international name Koppu), are seen in City Camp Lagoon at Baguio city, on October 19, 2015. (Source: REUTERS/Harley Palangchao)

1. Comply with your local government’s mandatory evacuations.

2. Prepare for evacuation if you live in the following:

  • Low-lying areas prone to flooding

  • Mountainous areas prone to landslides

  • Coastal, lakeside and riverside areas prone to storm surges

  • Mobile homes, temporary shelter or houses made of light materials

  • Top floors in high-rise buildings – hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations

3. Find out where local evacuation centers are located.

4. Prepare a go-bag filled with essentials.

  • Food and water

  • Spare cash and debit/credit cards

  • Clothes and blankets

  • Face masks and face shields

  • First aid kit with necessary medicine

  • Phone, laptop and chargers

  • Flashlights and batteries

  • Important documents

FILE PHOTO: Emergency go bag (Source: Getty Commercial)
FILE PHOTO: Emergency go bag (Source: Getty Commercial)

5. Plan out a safe evacuation route.

6. If the internet is still available, monitor the typhoon by checking PAG-ASA’s weather bulletin issued every six hours. If not, stay tuned in to radio and TV for more information about the weather disturbance.

7. Reinforce weak structures in your house. Board up windows if necessary.

8. Expect power outages. Charge up and prepare flashlights, candles, power banks as well as generators.

9. Stock up on food that are easy to prepare such as canned goods, cup noodles and bread.

10. Prepare life-preservers (salbabida) or make-shift floating devices.

11. Take down emergency hotlines for possible rescue:

  • Philippine National Emergency Hotline-911

  • National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC)-Trunk line: (02) 8911-5061 to 65 local 100

  • Office of the Civil Defense Trunk line: (02) 8421-1918, (02) 8913-2786

  • Philippine Coast Guard Text hotline: 0917-724-3682 (0917-PCG-DOTC), 0918-967-4697

  • Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Hotline: 136/Viber: 0939-922-7161

  • Philippine National Police (PNP) Hotline: 117 or text PNP to 2920/ Text hotline: 0917-847-5757

  • Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Trunk line: (02) 8284-0800

Safety and survival during a typhoon

FILE PHOTO: Residents stand on electric wires to stay on high ground while others wade in neck-deep flood waters caused by Typhoon Ondoy in Cainta Rizal on September 27, 2009. (Source: REUTERS/Erik de Castro)
FILE PHOTO: Residents stand on electric wires to stay on high ground while others wade in neck-deep flood waters caused by Typhoon Ondoy in Cainta Rizal on September 27, 2009. (Source: REUTERS/Erik de Castro)

1. Stay inside and away from windows and glass doors.

2. Keep curtains and blinds closed.

3. Keep track of the typhoon’s location and strength. If there is a lull, don't be misled; it could be the eye of the storm, and the winds will kick up again.

4. Find a “safe room” and stay inside with your family.

5. Keep your emergency-go bags as well as your charged phones within reach.

6. When in danger, call emergency hotlines immediately.

The aftermath and moving forward

FILE PHOTO: A man goes through his belongings inside a house covered with mud after flooding caused by Typhoon Ulysses (international name Vamco) in Marikina on November 13, 2020. (Source: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
FILE PHOTO: A man goes through his belongings inside a house covered with mud after flooding caused by Typhoon Ulysses (international name Vamco) in Marikina on November 13, 2020. (Source: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

1. Wait for news updates and make sure that the storm has passed before going out.

2. Assess your house for infrastructural damage.

3. Practice social distancing inside an evacuation center.

4. Get injuries treated.

  • Philippine Red Cross Hotline: 143, (02) 8527-8385 to 95

5. Contact your local Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) office for relief goods.

  • Text Hotline: 0918-912-2813

  • Trunk line: (02) 8931-8101 to 07

  • Disaster Response Unit: (02) 8856-3665, (02) 8852-8081

6. Inform your loved ones of your whereabouts and that you are safe.

7. Contact your local electric cooperative to inquire about resumption of power in case of a power outage.

  • MERALCO Hotline 16211

8. For any property loss or property damage, you may apply for a calamity loan under SSS or Pag-IBIG within 90 days from the State of Calamity declaration in your area.

Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.

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