Preparing the citizenry

ILOILO City is the pilot site of today’s nationwide simultaneous earthquake drill.

When an earthquake occurs and a fire ensues, would our kids know what to do and where to go? Would the teachers and school staff know how to keep the children calm and guide them to safety?

They would not know unless they undergo safety drills like the earthquake drill.

Here’s a sensible proposal: conduct these drills every month in educational and medical establishments, such as hospitals and schools.

The regular conduct of fire and earthquake drills would effectively instill disaster preparedness in our citizens. Schools and health facilities, aside from being shelters for the vulnerable — children, sick and elderly – are critical public infrastructures, especially in times of disaster when victims need emergency refuge, services and medical care. Therefore, schools and hospitals should be disaster-resilient.

The drills should include practice and instruction concerning the location, use and operation of emergency exits, fire escapes, doors and fire extinguishers and other facilities provided for such purpose in buildings as well as the proper evacuation of buildings by persons in the event of fires, earthquakes and other hazardous phenomena.

We have to institutionalize monthly safety drills.  But this should not be limited to schools and hospitals. Government institutions, private companies, local government units and even households should conduct regular emergency drills because these activities will help instill disaster preparedness in our citizens. Being prepared means that when a natural hazard such as an earthquake strikes, every citizen would know what to do and where to go, and that government agencies, both national and local, are ready to respond.

We must enhance our resiliency to disasters by preparing the citizenry, particularly school children and the occupants of health care institutions, their administrators, operators, and personnel on the proper response and actions to take in cases of fires, earthquakes and other hazardous phenomena. We have to do this so that our people know what to do in times of disasters and to reduce the risks on their lives, limb and properties.


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