Will Your Finances Be Able To Weather Through An Earthquake?
Living in the Philippines, we are well aware of the heightened risks of earthquakes. It occurs spontaneously but it’s nothing unexpected anymore unless it’s massively devastating. Back in 2017 when a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck just off the coast of Mindanao, experts urged those in Metro Manila and surrounding areas to prepare for “The Big One.” According to Renato Solidum, Director of The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), Filipinos must learn from the effects of the magnitude 6.9 earthquake in Sarangani, Davao Occidental, because if a similar earthquake took place in an urbanized area, the results could be devastating and even catastrophic.
Flash forward 2 years later, while what struck us again wasn’t exactly “The Big One”, that forewarning from the experts has somehow come true. Another earthquake has shaken the country yet again, this time in the main city in Luzon – and with actual death counts and enormous damage to the infrastructures across the region. It’s also followed by another one in Eastern Samar with a magnitude of 6.2, which is equally devastating.
While there isn’t much that we could all do to prevent natural disasters from occurring, we can, however, prepare ourselves to power through such calamities. Proper planning could be the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. Here’s how you can ensure you and your family are prepared should an earthquake occur:
What To Do Before an Earthquake
1. Save for an emergency fund
One of the best things you can do to ensure you and your family are prepared for any type of natural disaster is to have an emergency fund set aside to help you pay for unexpected expenses. If you have not started one yet, don’t worry. It’s never too late. It’s very easy to put off contributing to an emergency fund, but keep in mind that every little contribution counts.
To be safe, your emergency fund should at least equate to at least three months’ worth of your household expenses. This is to cover repairs and other additional expenses to get back on track after the earthquake. Some of these extra expenses might include repairs or replacement of essential home equipment destroyed during the calamity that isn’t covered by your home insurance (if you have one), and they aren’t really cheap!
If you don’t have home insurance, the more it is necessary for you to have an emergency fund. Because prevention is always better than cure, read our guide on how to start an emergency fund to have a clearer picture of where to start.
2. Have a family plan
It’s important that you sit down with your family so everyone knows what to do in the event of an earthquake. Having a plan in place before disaster strikes could help reduce stress, fear, and even injury
A family plan that ensures your family’s well being such as insurance is also a must during calamities. While enough preparation can prevent accidents from happening, earthquakes, on the other hand, is unpredictable. That is why it’s also best to prepare for the worst – an accident. Being fully prepared for an accident means being financially capable when the need arises.
You can find and compare different insurance policies that could cover your medical expenses during an accident in our comparison page.
3. Keep emergency supplies on-hand
Make sure you have a flashlight, portable radio, batteries, a fire extinguisher, and a first-aid kit accessible in your home. You should also make sure to have at least a three-day supply of water for each family member and pet in your home, as well as non-perishable foods, and any tools necessary to turn off your gas and water supply.
4. Keep heavy objects in safe places
It’s also a good idea to place heavy objects on low shelves to avoid personal injury if these objects were to fall. In addition, do not hang heavy pictures or other objects above your bed, as these could cause severe injury if they landed on you. Make sure to secure any objects that could topple over and cause injury such as appliances, furniture, mirrors, heavy pots, and top-heavy shelves. For example, heavy pieces of furniture and appliances can be anchored to the walls or floor.
5. Know your home
It’s essential for you to know where your master switches and shutoff valves are for all your utilities. It’s also important for you to know how to shutoff all valves in your home.
6. Secure cabinets
Install latches or bolts to cabinets to avoid items from falling out during an earthquake.
7. Practice duck, cover, and hold on
You should have safe places in each room of your home where your family members can protect themselves from earthquake-related injury. In addition, practice duck, cover, and hold on techniques with your family members in order to avoid serious injury.
What To Do During an Earthquake
1. Stay calm
There’s no doubt that your adrenaline will be pumping during an earthquake, but it’s essential for you to stay as calm as possible and keep a clear mind. A loud or chaotic environment could lead to mistakes, which could cause severe injury or even death.
2. Practice duck, cover, and hold on
According to experts, most earthquake-related injuries happen due to people moving and falling around. The most common injuries associated with earthquakes are sprains, fractures, and head injuries. During an earthquake, it’s essential for you to drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy table or other pieces of furniture, and hold on until the shaking stops. Make sure you always cover your head with your arms to protect your skull and stay away from windows.
3. Be safe outside
If you are outside when an earthquake hits, stay away from large buildings, power lines, and trees. If you are driving, do not take shelter under an overpass or a bridge. Find a safe area, stay in your car, and tune into the radio.
4. Do not light a fire
It may be tempting to light a match, candle, or other flame for light, but if this fire were to meet a broken gas line, the results could be deadly.
5. Stay away from elevators
If you are in a high-rise building during an earthquake, do not use an elevator to try to escape. Stay on your floor, and take cover under a large piece of furniture.
6. Stay inside
If you are indoors during an earthquake, stay indoors until the shaking comes to a complete stop. Do not go outside under any circumstance, until you are positive the earthquake is finished.
What To Do After an Earthquake
1. Be prepared for aftershock
After an earthquake, aftershocks are expected. Aftershocks can occur in the first few hours following an earthquake, a few days after, a few weeks after, or even months after the initial earthquake. Each time you feel an aftershock, practice duck, cover, and hold on techniques.
2. Check for injuries
Check yourself and your family members for injuries sustained during the earthquake. Get assistance for yourself and your family before helping other injured civilians.
3. Protect your feet
Before you go outside, put on sturdy shoes to protect your feet from any debris that could cause injury. Also, wear protective clothing such as long pants and long sleeves.
4. Check appliances for damage
After an earthquake, it’s essential to check your electrical, water, and gas lines for damage. If you suspect an issue with any of your lines, do not turn them back on until the power company checks them. Above all, do not light any type of fire until you are certain there is no gas leak in your home. If you smell gas, get out of your home immediately and call your utility company. Also, check your sewer lines before using the toilet.
5. Take pictures of the damage
It will be essential for you to take pictures of any damage to your home for insurance purposes. Home insurance policies in the Philippines offer basic and comprehensive packages, depending on your preference. The most common types of home insurance in the Philippines are those that cover fire or flood-related incidents. You can have a broader coverage by paying more, and this will cover not just earthquakes but every property damage caused by natural calamities.
Insurance policies also have extended coverage for property damage not caused by nature which may include explosions caused by gas leak, vehicle impact, falling aircraft, and the, etc.
With home insurance, you’ll take comfort knowing that whatever happens to your home, you’ll always have the resources to repair, rebuilt or improve it.
6. Keep the radio on
You will want to keep your radio on for any additional public safety messages. After the earthquake, try to use your phone only for emergency purposes.
7. Don’t enter damaged buildings
It may be tempting to enter a badly damaged home to collect valuables, but doing so could result in extreme injury or even death. Never enter a building until local authorities provide clearance.
8. Make sure you’re prepared for the future
After an earthquake, prepare your home and your family for future disasters. This should include setting up an emergency fund and making monthly contributions. Remember, you can never be too prepared when it comes to your family’s safety and financial assurance.
An emergency, such as an earthquake, can be cause for heightened stress, even if you have a plan in place. There are many resources you can use to help prepare you for an earthquake such as:
- Prepare Manila
- Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology
- Department of Science & Technology and Seismology Infographic
Keeping your family safe before, during, and after an earthquake requires proper planning. We hope this guide will provide you the foundation necessary to protect your family and home in the face of a disaster.