SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union — The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has urged Ilocos families to utilize “go- bags ” and make them available and obligatory in their homes in times of calamities and other disasters.
OCD Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima said that every household be resillient and prepared in any eventuality and should discuss the importance of having something handy like “go-bags” for the first few hours before disasters like tyhoons strike their area.
Purisima was here recently when he graced the kick – off activities of the National Disaster Resilience Month (NDRM) in the Ilocos region.
The “go bags,” which contain personal necessities, food, water, hygiene kits, transistor radio, batteries, whistle, flash lights and other important things, must be placed in easily accessible location inside the home during emergencies.
“Resiliency is not just preparedness but preparations that are proactive which includes training more people because the more people that are prepared, the less people that are needed to be rescued during disasters thus we should make disaster resilience viral in our families and in our communities as well,” Purisima said.
According to Purisima, the OCD and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) are now levelling up the efforts from the simple awareness-raising activities to those that are geared towards the promotion of resilience.
“Our people are already aware of the hazards that abound our archipelago but the people are still frightened of the many unknowns in the disaster like the fear of loss of life, livelihood and possession,” Purisima said.
“We empower the people so that their fears will translate into courage and fortitude, highlighting the past that survival from disaster stems from the hearts and minds of the Filipino people and of the communities, when the people become fully aware of dangers and hazards of disasters and they are motivated to counter them by preparedness then becoming resilient citizens, individuals and communities,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Loren Legarda has renewed her call to heighten disaster preparedness especially in the local communities.
Legarda, the global champion for resilience of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said that proactive strategies and the involvement of citizens are needed in strengthening the country’s defenses against natural hazards and climate change.
“Most natural hazards turn into disasters because of the lack of preparedness. Preparation is the name of the game. It is a must that citizens understand how they can contribute to making our communities disaster-resilient and urge them to actually take part in such activities,” she said.
“Disaster prevention starts long before a typhoon makes landfall, before an earthquake happens or before a volcano erupts. Early warning and early action should be at the very heart of our efforts. Everyone should understand the risks we face and equip ourselves with preventive measures to lessen the impact of natural hazards,” she stressed.
In line with this, Legarda said that local government officials are in the best position to lead and engage those in their respective cities, municipalities, and provinces to establish and strengthen disaster preparedness measures.
Community preparations for disasters include regular pruning of trees, dredging of canals and esteros, and the practice of segregating garbage, she said, adding that communities should heed disaster warnings to prevent disasters.
For early warning systems, Legarda said that barangays can use whistles and come up with a code or system so that people would know what to do depending on the length and frequency of each whistle blow.
When hazards such as typhoons are expected, barangay officials and volunteers can do mobile patrolling and use sirens to immediately alert people either to stay indoors or get ready to move to safer places. The regular conduct of earthquake and safety drills is also important especially in schools and hospitals.
Local government units (LGUs) should also involve citizens in restoring coastal mangrove forests and continuous tree-growing activities, which are simple yet effective defenses against several types of hazards.
“Our LGUs’ role is important in building resilient communities. They should plan well and invest public resources wisely with reducing disaster risk as a goal; promote a culture of safety and resilience engaging all stakeholders and sectors; raise awareness on disaster and climate risk at community and family level; and improve local early warning and community preparedness systems. Disaster risk reduction and preparedness should be a way of life,” Legarda added. Freddie Lazaro/PIA-northboundasia.com