How to Protect Yourself from Natural Disasters (science-backed)
by Roger Gallager
Have you been seeing tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, devastating hurricanes and other natural disasters in the news more often? Have natural calamities become more frequent? According to a report released by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), there had been 385 disasters recorded during the 2000 – 2009 period. This figure marks an increase of 233% from 1980 to 1989 and a 67% increase from 1990 to 1999.
This means that the increase in the frequency of natural disasters you see on the television and the internet is no coincidence. There has been a steady increase in natural disasters since 1980. Earthquakes made up 60% of natural disasters from 2000 to 2009 while climate-related events, such as droughts, storms, and floods, had made up the majority of disasters overall, increasing tenfold since data was first collected in 1950. The resulting economic losses from these disasters were estimated at $446 billion.
Now, the question is, are you and your family prepared to face a natural calamity? According to a study conducted by the University of Iowa, College of Public Health which was published online in the American Journal of Public Health, older Americans are not adequately prepared to face natural calamities likes tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes.
Only one-third of the 1,304 adults interviewed said they had read information or participated in a disaster-preparedness program while fewer than twenty-five percent reported having emergency or contingency plans. A disturbing fifty percent of the respondents said they would not know where to seek shelter if they were forced to evacuate their home and about a quarter said they did not have access to transportation during emergencies.
Are you one of these people who are not prepared to face natural calamities? If the world’s worst disasters were to hit your city next week, would you know what to do for survival? If you are not sure, you better take a look at our seven ways to survive environmental disasters.
Surviving a Flood:
Flooding can be caused by different phenomenon. It can be natural, like excessive rain or a tsunami or man-made like the opening of a dam. A flood can develop slowly, over time or rapidly, as in the case of flash floods which can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. A flood can be limited to a neighborhood or a community or very large and span the entire river basins or multiple states.
- Be aware if your area of residence is at risk of a flood. This is the first thing that a prepper should do. It is unwise to rely solely on history to determine whether your area is at risk of flooding. A number of factors which include, but are not limited to, rainfall, topography, flood-control measures, river-flow and tidal-surge data, and changes due to new construction and development can affect your area’s risk of flooding.
- Elevate electric panels, water heaters, and other electrical appliances in your home to reduce the chance of short-circuiting and accidental electrocution during a flood.
- Create an evacuation plan and route in case you have to evacuate your home. Be aware of the designated safe areas you can go to. Prepare food kits for natural disasters that you can easily take with you if you have to leave your house. It would help to stock up on your food storage through food preservations for emergency situations.
- If there is a possibility of a flash flood, leave your home and move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move. Evacuating may also cause a shortage in available food supply. During these cases, hunger becomes a very real threat. To survive, one must rely on food storage.
- While evacuating, avoid walking through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground, when water is not moving or not more than a few inches deep. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly. If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay in the vehicle. If the water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof.
- Stay on higher ground even if the floodwaters seem to be receding. There is no telling when another flash flood may occur.
Surviving an earthquake:
A calamitous earthquake is a violent shaking of the ground that can cause massive destruction to people and property. The most common cause of earthquakes is the moving of subterranean rocks to release tension that has accumulated over time.
- As with every natural disaster, try as much as you can to assess how much you are at risk of an earthquake. It is much harder to predict an earthquake-prone area compared to other natural disasters. The best one can do is to avoid building in areas which have soft rock foundations as these areas are prone to take more damage in the event of an earthquake.
- Most injuries caused by earthquakes are from falling objects hitting people. You can avoid this by fastening shelves securely to walls, placing large or heavy objects on lower shelves, storing breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches and fastening heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit. You can also brace overhead light fixtures and top heavy objects.
- Earthquakes also usually cause fires as every household is filled with flammable items that can ignite easily when dropped or mixed together. That is why it is important to store flammable materials such as weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
- Always remember three things when it comes to an actual earthquake: drop, cover, and hold. Drop to the ground; take cover under tables or other solid pieces of furniture, and hold on. Remain stationary until the earthquake ends.
- If you are outdoors, stay away from buildings, streetlights, and overhead wires. Try to stay where you are unless there is imminent danger.
- After the earthquake, it is best to leave your house or building even if it seems to have taken no damage. Beams and foundations may have been broken which might cause collapses that might gravely injure you. In case of earthquakes with strong magnitudes, do not attempt to enter your house unless ensured safe by an expert.
- Even if your house and your family manage to take no damage from the earthquake, your surroundings and community could be extremely damaged. In cases such as these, there might not be a steady stream of a dependable food supply. It would be best to be prepared for these cases by having emergency food ready and having the best survival kits for the situation.
These are just two of the natural disasters that you must be ready to face. Always remember that when it comes to natural disasters, always be aware, prepared, and alert. You never know when disaster might strike.