Sunday, March 13, 2011

PHIVOLCS Tips on Being Prepared for Earthquakes and Tsunami

People around the world are shocked with what happened to Japan last Friday as an 8.9 magnitude earthquake occurred off the sea from the northeast part of Japan. The earthquake did not cause much damage. It is the tsunami that occurred after the earthquake that caused the damage to property, injuries and deaths. As of this moment, Japanese authorities are still assessing the actual damage and the death toll caused by the tsunami.

Minutes after the earthquake at Japan, PHIVOLCS or the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued Tsunami Bulletins to alert people living in the coastal areas of the north and eastern part of the Philippines of the possible waves of tsunami hitting their area. PHIVOLCS issued the warning based on the information given by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), located on Hawaii. Because of the PHIVOLCS tsunami bulletin, people living in the affected communities were easily mobilized and evacuated. Thankfully, big tsunami waves did not reach the Philippines. PHIVOLCS already removed the tsunami alert for the Philippines and the affected people returned to their communities.

For a long time now, PHIVOLCS had been warning us of the dangers of earthquakes and tsunamis. PHIVOLCS already made many studies regarding the major fault lines, especially the Marikina Fault Line. However, information regarding earthquakes and tsunami is that broadcasted widely. Aside from that, information regarding preparedness to earthquakes and tsunamis are not that widespread. With this in mind, here are the tips on how to prepare for earthquakes as written in the posters issued by PHIVOLCS.

PHIVOLCS Tips: What to Do Before an Earthquake

PHIVOLCS tips before an earthquake

1. The key to effective disaster prevention is planning.

- Know the earthquakes hazards in your area.

-Follow structural design and engineering practices when constructing your house or your buildings.

- Check the soundness of your house. Strengthen or retrofit if necessary.

2. Prepare your homes, workplace and schools.

- Strap or bolt heavy furniture, like cabinets and large appliances, to the wall to prevent it from falling down during an earthquake.

- Check if hanging objects inside your home, like ceiling fans and chandeliers, are stable.

- Store fragile items, harmful chemicals and flammable materials in a secured place.

3. Familiar yourself with the exit routes in your home, workplace and school. Also, know the location of fire extinguishers and first aid kits in your area.

4. Prepare a handy emergency kit that contains canned goods, bottled water, medicines, flashlight, extra batteries and battery-operated radios.

5. Conduct and participate in regular earthquake drills.

In addition to the tips mentioned by PHIVOLCS, other useful tips that I can add are these:

6. Plan with your family about the evacuation place that family members can go to during emergency situations. Planning the evacuation areas will help in locating family members during emergency situations. This will avoid family member getting lost because they can’t be located.

7. Secure vital documents (like birth certificates, land titles, etc.) in one easy-to-carry bag so that it could easily be carried during emergency situations.

PHIVOLCS Tips: What to Do During an Earthquake

PHIVOLCS tips during an earthquake

1. Be calm, be alert and don’t panic.

2. If you are inside a structurally sound building:

- Quickly open the door, if possible.

- Duck under a sturdy table or desk and hold on to it or protect your head.

- Stay away from glass windows and heavy furniture or appliances that may fall down.

3. If you are inside, move to open area.

- Stay away from trees, posts, power lines and structures.

- Stay away from steep slopes and landslide prone areas.

- Move away from the shoreline and move to higher grounds because tsunami may occur after an earthquake.

4. If you are in a moving vehicle, stop and get out. Don’t attempt to cross bridges, underpass, tunnels and flyovers.

PHIVOLCS Tips: What to Do After an Earthquake

PHIVOLCS tips after an earthquake

1. Be prepared of aftershocks. Once the shaking stops, take the fastest and safest way out of the building. Don’t use elevators nor enter damaged buildings.

2. Check yourself and others for injuries.

3. Check for damaged electrical and water lines.

4. Check for spills of chemical, toxic or flammable materials.

5. Extinguish fires in the area to prevent it from spreading.

6. If you need to evacuate your residence, leave a message stating the place where you are going. Also, bring your emergency kit.

7. Keep yourself updated through your battery operated radios.

So, those are the tips written on PHIVOLCS “Earthquake Preparedness Guide.” You can download this guide from PHIVOLCS here (PDF file). Visit PHIVOLCS website for more information about earthquakes and tsunamis.

Visit my other post about PHIVOLCS' list  of fault lines, PHIVOLCS Map of Tsunami Prone Areas and PHIVOLCS map of areas affected by Marikina Fault.


  1. i believe the most effective tool for survival in any disaster is to equip oneself with information & be prepared at all times.

  2. Thanks for the very informative article. Recently my children asked me about earthquakes and I started to panic.

  3. Don't panic Paula. Just keep yourself informed and do the necessary things to make you and your family prepared for earthquake.


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