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Natural disasters: What to do before, during and after

Desastre natural: ¿Qué hacer antes, durante y después?

Natural disasters are events that happen unexpectedly and – in most cases – take us by surprise.

For this reason, it is important to have a plan that allows us to react immediately, having at hand indispensable elements to overcome any eventuality.

Today we bring you a wealth of advice about natural disasters and what to do before, during and after an event of this type.

Be prepared: Bag with the most important

Prepárate: Bolso con lo más importante

In view of the various changes that have occurred on the Earth today, it is necessary to be prepared for any probability of natural disaster that may occur

One of the basic recommendations to face a natural disaster is to prepare for that event.

The ideal is to have a bag that contains a series of implements that will allow you to get out of the way after the disaster has happened.

Among the elements that should be part of your bag or equipment supplies we have:

  • First aid kit.
  • Emergency and family phone numbers.
  • Bottles with purified water in unbreakable containers.
  • Non-perishable and low weight food.
  • Special food and medicine for the sick.
  • Decapper, can opener and knife.
  • Flashlight with spare batteries.
  • Candles and matches.
  • Battery-powered radio.
  • Spare batteries.
  • Set of clothes stored in a sealed bag.
  • Thin, lightweight blanket.
  • Copy of house and car keys.
  • Personal and household documents packed in a plastic bag.
  • Plastic bags.

Preparation involves checking how things are at home

La preparación pasa por revisar cómo están las cosas en casa

It is very important to check the conditions of our house, so we can determine the weak points of our security during a natural disaster.

To check the current state of our home is necessary:

  • Check the foundations and structure of your house.
  • Know how long it takes to evacuate your home.
  • Make sure that the electrical wiring in your house is in good condition.
  • Check for gas leaks.
  • Check that your trees are in good condition, otherwise prune them completely.
  • If the authorities issue an evacuation call, before leaving your house: close the water and gas connections, turn down the electricity and close your house.

Identifies the safe places in case of natural disaster

Identifica los lugares seguros ante desastre natural

Another important aspect to consider, before a natural disaster occurs, is to identify the spaces in your home that offer the most protection and allow you to take shelter with your family.

Identifying the safety of each space is essential:

  • Know the safest places in your home in case of an earthquake.
  • Identify the clear areas of your home, if there is no safe area.
  • Set up the smallest room in your house.
  • Check the unsafe spaces in your home for objects that could fall and hurt you.
  • Check that the drains in your house are in excellent condition

In the middle of a natural disaster, what to do?

En pleno desastre natural ¿Qué hacer?

Many times the fear and the lack of preparation -in the presence of natural disasters- makes us lose the focus, stopping to act in consequence to the damages that these events can cause.

During the evolution of a disaster, having a basic knowledge that allows you to protect your life and your family’s will make the difference.

Here we share a series of recommendations that will allow you to manage the crisis during a natural disaster:

  • Stay away from windows, doors, and objects that might fall on you.
  • If you can get out in 15 seconds or less, get out of the space you are in.
  • If you can’t get out, look for shelter in the smallest room in the house, which is usually the bathroom.
  • Do not use elevators to evacuate.
  • If you are in the street, stay away from electrical poles and buildings, preferably looking for open spaces.
  • If you are driving, find a safe place to park away from power lines and trees.
  • Unplug all electrical appliances.

The event is over… It’s important to work on this

Ya pasó el evento… Es importante trabajar en esto

Once the natural disaster is over, the most important thing is to stay calm and follow the recommendations below:

  • If you are outside, do not go inside immediately. Wait and see if there is an aftershock.
  • If you are inside the house and hear cracks or see any damage to the structure, get out immediately.
  • If you are trapped, stay calm and make a noise by banging on something to be found.
  • Check for injuries and seek medical assistance if necessary.
  • Do not light a fire until you are sure there is no gas leak.
  • Do not drive near rivers or waterways, even if it is not raining.
  • In case of flooding, do not go into the water.
  • Follow the instructions of Civil Protection.

What is a natural disaster?

¿Qué es un desastre natural?

A natural disaster is an unexpected event capable of causing severe damage in a population that prevents the normal development of activities, affecting essential activities within society.

Importance of Preparing for Natural Disasters

Importancia de prepararse para los desastres naturales

The importance of preparing for natural disasters lies in having the necessary information for event management.

To minimize the power they have to cause losses, leaving emotional scars that affect the people who suffer them.

The idea is to know in detail what the behavior of the population is while the three basic moments are developing: before, during and after a natural disaster.

Most Common Natural Disasters

Desastres naturales más comunes

Volcanoes

Volcanoes are formations of molten rock with an opening where magma comes out, they are shaped like a hill or mountain due to the accumulation of layers of lava and ash.

There are two types of volcanoes: inactive ones that have had no activity for thousands of years or have erupted only once, and active ones that have stages of activity interrupted by variable periods of time.

In order to inform the different levels of danger of the volcanic activity there is a mechanism of the National System of Protection called volcanic alert traffic light.

The color green means that you can perform everyday activities normally.

Yellow indicates that you should be alert to information shared by authorities.

The color red is used as an alarm signal, telling people to take shelter in safe spaces.

Cyclones

Cyclones are abnormal concentrations of low air pressure clouds with winds converging at high speeds in an anti-clockwise direction.

They cause damage such as: rain, wind, wave and storm tide discharges.

Another characteristic of cyclones is related to the strength of their winds, according to which they are classified as

  • Tropical depression.
  • Tropical Storm
  • Hurricane.

These phenomena are predictable and thanks to the Early Warning System the population at risk is informed in a timely manner of the presence of any of these phenomena.

The Early Warning System includes 5 phases that will allow for mass communication to reduce fear in the population, these are

  1. Warning: this is emitted when it detects the presence of the event.
  2. Warning: this is emitted when the detected phenomenon may cause damage and the possible trajectory and area of affectation is indicated.
  3. Emergency: it spreads when the phenomenon is approaching, at this moment we take action to evacuate if the authorities consider it.
  4. Alarm: it is transmitted when the phenomenon is affecting the communities. At that time, the population must be sheltered in safe spaces.
  5. Attention to the contingency: in this phase the authorities inform about the situation and the measures that the population must follow.

Floods caused by rainfall

Flooding caused by rain or stormwater flooding occurs when the drainage capacity of the land is saturated by rainwater

Intense rains can cause floods, torrents or landslides that in some cases can develop for days or minutes.

The danger of flooding lies in the consequences generated by water currents that can carry away stones, logs, hillsides and debris.

Tremors and earthquakes

Tremors and earthquakes are caused by the sudden release of accumulated energy on the tectonic plates.

The magnitude of the earthquake is recorded by using the seismograph through the Richter scale.

It is also possible to measure the intensity of the earthquake, using the Mercalli scale. This scale is recorded using Roman numbers from I to XII.

Natural Fires

Natural fires develop large proportions of fire that can cause damage and loss of life and property.

Fires can occur instantaneously or gradually.

Natural fires occur in materials of an organic nature whose combustion is initiated by embers; this type of fire belongs to the A classification.

Frosts in winter

Winter frosts occur when the air temperature decreases to 0°C or less with respect to the surface of the ground for more than 8 hours.

The aspect of the frosts can vary depending on the type and according to their aspect they are classified in

  • White frosts: are formed when air masses are humid, causing condensation and the formation of ice on the surface of plants.
  • Black Frost: it develops when the air in the environment is dry, the process of condensation does not occur and no ice forms on the surface of the plants.

During black frosts, crops are damaged and the vegetation is often blackened.

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