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.
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
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
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
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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