The abrasive ashfall from the recent eruption of the Taal volcano caused an alarm for the people not having masks readily available – much more to those near the 14-km danger zone left unprepared for the evacuation. Almost half a million have been ordered to leave the area and as Alert Level 4 remains, there could be a possibility in the worst-case scenario that the number of evacuees increases by the day.
When this happens, do you have an emergency kit you can carry with you?
The Philippines is located at the ring of fire and as an archipelago, typhoons and earthquakes are no extraordinary to our islands. Scientists have already stated that because of climate change the frequency and power of destructive typhoons and eruptions are expected to rise. While there is a dire need for apparent environmental protection, we also have to be ready when calamities strike. When disasters hit, our personal safety is above everything. It is but a must for all Filipinos and everyone here to have a Go bag ready in case of an emergency. It is still impossible to come up with an entirely zero-waste emergency kit but I have tried my very best to round up some of the reusable and recyclable products I have been keeping.
GFF’s list of what to put in an emergency kit:
- Water and Food
– 1.5 L of water in a bladder or resuable bottles
– Water filter
– A weeks supply of biscuits, bottled goods, sugar candies, and canned goods
- First Aid Kit
– N95 Mask or an alternative
– Mediplast first aid kit (big and small)
– Handy health kit of tablets
– Personal survival kit
– Hydration salts
– Chewables for nausea
- Emergency Plan Binder
– Map of evacuation centers/places to go for aid
– Cellphone with battery, credit, and charger
– List of emergency hotlines/contact person
– Hand crank or rechargeable radio
– Hand crank or rechargeable flashlight/emergency light
– Re-used tarps and ties/ropes for shelter
- Clothing and toiletries
– Clothing for three days/waterproof jacket
- Cash & IDs
– Pocket Money
– Insurance policies
I would recommend having five gallons of water in your household that you can use for days because you can’t always count on the water being potable (there could be leaks or breaks from the pipes). In case of evacuation, I have with me a 1.5L of a bladder/ water reservoir that comes with a drink tube, so I can carry it with my backpack anywhere I go with easy access (you can also use reusable water bottles with the same volume). I also recommend having a water filter though keep in mind that it can’t be used with ashfall because it can’t filter the fine particles of fragmented volcanic rocks that could enter our digestive and respiratory system.
I have a stock of my favorite bottled goods that I can replace yearly by making my own refills. I also have canned goods since they’re lighter and can last longer – If there’s a need to evacuate, there’s no way I could bring a lot of that food with me because it would be too heavy. Remember to also stock up for biscuits and candies that could feed you for two weeks. Sometimes, evacuation could take up so long and could last up to weeks or months depending on the scale of damages.
We already felt how terrible the abrasive ashfalls were irritating our noses, eyes, and lungs with sulfur and lots of hazardous components. Some of the emergency kits you can buy from the drugstores already have medical masks that you can double up and sandwich with tissue in between (almost as effective as that of N95 mask). There was also news that you can use bras in the absence of masks.
I’m pretty obsessed with stocking up meds that I can use in case of an emergency. We don’t know what we could encounter with all the elements and dangers outside especially if we had to leave our homes. My Go Bag consists of Mediplast first aid kit, handy health kit of tablets and a personal survival kit with hydration salts and chewable for nausea.
Emergency plan binder
Make it a priority to familiarize yourself with the city’s evacuation sites and also maps for your exit plan. Bridges and roads may break and fire may arise so you should have a lot of plans on where to go. Think of ways on how to get to relatives and friends fast and safe. I have printed the city maps and also the evacuation sites together with a list of emergency hotlines and contact persons.
Be sure to put a radio and flashlight along with batteries for easy communication (there are already hand-crank radios and flashlights which eliminate the use of batteries, a good eco-friendly alternative). I purposely spared an old phone with credits and a solar power bank to include in my kit, as well as re-used tarps with ties and ropes in the need to build a temporary shelter.
Clothing and toiletries
I have scored pairs of clothes good for three days with pullovers, socks, leggings, undies and a waterproof jacket for wet and cold weather (remember that a disaster could happen during the rainy as well as dry season). Don’t forget the toiletries – I personally carry soap and shampoo bars, toothbrush and toothy tabs.
Cash and Identification
Lastly, pull together some cash and your copies of important documents like health insurance and government IDs.
To be honest, preparing all these can be a bit overwhelming but I’d rather be prepared than not when a disaster does happen. So go on, slowly stock up on what you plan to put on your emergency kits. Place it somewhere accessible, preferably nearby the exit so it’s easy to find and carry in case you will need it.