Following the Taal Volcano eruption on 12 Jan 2020, ashfall and earthquakes continue to plague the Philippines. In light of these recent calamities, it’s become even more urgent to equip ourselves with knowledge on what to do during an earthquake and how to stay safe while we’re travelling.
- Get travel insurance. We’ve emphasised this over and over again for a reason. Being in a foreign country makes a natural disaster 10 times more stressful than it already is. You’re away from your family and loved ones. Away from the comforts of your home. Unfamiliar with hospitals, evacuation sites, and safety protocols. The least you can do to spare the additional stress is to be prepared with travel insurance that will cover your emergency expenses.
- Bring a first-aid kit. Even light packers should always have this. Aside from your basic vitamins and medicine, pack a handy emergency kit. This should include bandages, gauze, tweezers, painkillers, and safety pins, among many others.
- Always have cash. In this mostly cashless era, it’s convenient to rely on our cards. Still, it’s always important to keep a reasonable amount of cash with you. When a natural disaster strikes, there’s a chance that ATMs won’t work.
- Keep a soft copy of your travel documents on your phone. If you’re the type to keep your passport tucked safely in the depths your luggage, you’ll most likely forget to grab it when you need to run down the stairs from the 20th floor of your hotel. Now, what happens if you lose the luggage? It’s important to have a soft copy of all your travel documents on your phone. While the soft copy of your passport can’t replace the physical one, the embassy will have a less complicated time dealing with your situation.
- If you’re inside a car, stay inside. Let the driver slowly move the car to an open space away from buildings, poles, or any structure that may fall down. Roll the car windows all the way down. This will allow you to avoid inhaling gasoline fumes and escape faster if the car locks get jammed. Protect yourself by curling up and covering your head with your arms. Finally, when the earthquake ends, keep your seatbelt on in case of aftershocks.
- Upon arrival at your accommodation, identify safe places. To avoid panic while the earthquake is happening, immediately check for sturdy furniture you can crawl under. Also know the nearest route from your bedroom to the evacuation area. Remember, elevators are a safety hazard during an earthquake.
- If you’re by the beach, immediately head for high ground. When earthquakes strike, tsunamis are to be expected. So, it’s important to run to high ground immediately. Do not wait any longer!
- When you’re outside: Stay away from anything that could fall on you. Move away from buildings, trees, power lines, signs, etc.
- When you’re inside: Drop, cover and hold. If an earthquake occurs and you’re in bed, protect your head with a pillow. After the earthquake, inspect if your surroundings are stable and damage-free.
Finally, after a natural disaster occurs, remember to contact your loved ones and let them know you’re alright. Have a safe trip!