How to survive an Earthquake, a Tsunami and a Landslide

The Earthquake I would never foprget wou;d be the one hit Luzon during the time President Aquino’s time – Corazon Aquino. The greatest if not the most dramatic done by the Earthquake was when the ground in Dagupan almost became like liquid and buildings were literally sinking and in the City of Baguio was isolated for several days, the Pines Hotel collapsed trapping several people inside – including the wife Senator Roco. During Aquino’s term we also experience the eruption of Pinatubo -words like ash fall and lahar became terms commonly used. I remeber this because natural disaster are part of our lives as it has been part of our parents, and their parents lives. The Manila Cathedral and other churches have been witness to this – How many times has the Manila Cathedral been re-built? The mentor of Father Burgos , Father Pelaez died during an earthquake that struck the manila Cathedral. A book about old FIlipino houses cites our environments and the occurence of natural disasters as one of the reasons why our ancestors lived in bahay kubo or the bahay na bato has club feet pillars. It is adapting to life in the Pacific Ring of Fire – an area in rhe Pacific basin where a large number of earthqaukes and volcanic eruptions occur.

Back in the 1990s a dispute arose because of the Marikina fault line on opposite side were geologists from the Univeristy of the Philippines and PhilVolcs. My father Ernesto P. Sonido a geophysicist, which is the study of the physics of the Earth and its environment, from the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) was one of those peoples interviewed regarding the issue by the media – both in print and television. An article written by Melanie Manlogon came out it was titled, WAITING FOR THE BIG ONE: Is the Marikina Fault Line active or not ? Whatever the experts’ final answer, it pays to be prepared — in a land vulnerable to earthquakes. The article was published in Midweek, October 30, 1991.

The dispute was and still is interesting. I have kept a copy of the article and from time to time go back to it specially when a natural disaster strikes. I am sharing part of safety tips provided by my father for the article, I still think its timely and important for all of us to know what to do. And more importantly aftre reading the tips it is hard not to miss the importance of the following:

  • Knowing what to do before, during and after a natural disaster.
  • The importance of identifying areas that are of high risk to natural disasters.
  • Have in place structures or means the community can do when a natural disaster happens.
  • Some of the measures may need to be updated, like I am not sure if even sturdy trees can stop a tsunami that hit Japan or Indonesia, but still on the whole the tips seemed sound – especially what coastal communities should automatically do right after an earthquake.

    So here is the list of Safety Tips or what to do to prepare; what to do during; and what to do after an Earthquake, Tsunamis and Landslides.Know it, update it , teach it, practice and do it because we live in rhw land of Earhquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other forces of Nature.


    Dr. Emesto Sonido compiled a list of do’s and dont’s to minimize the loss of life and limb in case an earthquake or quake- related phenomena like tsunamis (tidal waves) and landslides occur.



    1. Get informed. Find out all you can about qu~es and related disasters. Study your environment.

    2. Support community programs aimed at preparing for earthquakes. These include lilSsessiilg the safety of buildings; strengthening public structures; and preparing evacuation plans.

    3. Check your home for potential earthquake risks. Anchor to walls .shelves, cabinets and other unstable fixtures and appliances. Large and heavy objects must be placed on lower shelves. Heavy, hanging objects must be secured.

    4. Conduct Earthquake drills


    1. Above all be calm. Do not panic.

    2. If you are indoors stay there. Get under a desk or heavy piece of furniture. Do not run outside as you risj injury due to falling objects or electrocultion.

    3. If you are in a high-rise building, find a table or similar fixture which can be your shield against falling objects. Don’t bother with stairways since these may be broken or jammed with people. If you are caught inside an elevator, keep calm and wait until service is resumed or until help comes.

    4. If you are in a crowded public place like the market, do not rush out of it. Other people may have the same idea and a stampede may occur. Quakes usually last for only about a minute so there is actually, no time to run outside while the ground shakes.

    5. If outside, stay away from building walls, electric posts and fallen electrical wires.

    6. If at home, turn off the main electric switch and gas stove.


    1. Before you start checking whether or , not your family members have been injured, check your house for beginning fires. These can start from broken gas lines or electrical short circuit.

    2. Check your family members for injuries and apply first aid.

    3. Check your kitchen utilities. The quake ,may have broken your gas or electric stove and water lines.

    4. If you smell gas, open windows and shut off the gas stove or gas line.

    5. Do not light a stove or lamp with a match as this could trigger a flre or an explosion.

    6. Do not turn on electrical power until you have checked your house wiring for any damages.

    7. Do not touch downed etectric lines or objects touched by live wires.

    8. Have a battery-operated radio on hand and listen to safety instructions issued by authonties:

    9. Stay out of damaged buildings. Inform authorities of damaged buildings and other structures.

    10. Don’t mill around in waterfront areas as they are at high risk in case tsunamis may have been generated by the quake.



    Not all earthquakes generate tsunami – However, when one feels quake while in a coastal area, the earthquake can be taken as a natural tsunami warning. Tsunamis are usually preceded by a pronounced rise and fall of coastal water.


    1. The most effective mitigation measure to avoid damage, injuries and death is to refrain from putting up your residence in a tsunami prone area.

    2. If you are in a coastal area, move immediately to high grmmd as soon as you fe’.el an earthquake. Do not wait to watch for a tsunami. If you can see it, you are tOO close to escape it.

    3. Stay off the beach during unusual tidal action. A tsimami may have been generated from a distant source and no official warning may have reached you.

    4. As a community, identify tsunami risk zones and inform people exposed to the

    5. Establish a warning system and evacuation procedures.

    6. Develop protective barriers against tsunamis. Plant rows of sturdy trees to serve as buffers for tsunamis.


    1. Move inland to higher ground as quickly as possible.

    2. When evacuating, don’t burden yourself with personal effects. This will only serve to delay you. It is better to check that all members of your family are moving with you to higher and safer ground.

    3. Stay out of the danger zone until authorities issue an “all clear” signal since a tsunami is not a single wave but a series of waves.


    1. Do not use fresh food that has come in contact with flood waters and pumped out wells. Let the water from the faucet flow for some time until it clears. Check the water before using.

    2. Before entering your house or any building, check it for structural damage. Make sure it’s not in danger of collapsing.

    3. Upon entering your house or any building, cut off electric power and check forshort Circuits, live wires and gas leakages. Don’t use a match or lamp as a light source because of the danger ofleaking gas. Use a battery-operated flashlight instead. If you smell gas, open windows and doors.

    4. Open all doors and windows to keep your house dry. Clear your house of mud and other debris to control the spread of disease-causing germs. .



    1. Plant ground cover or build retaining walls.

    2. Reinforce the foundation and walls of your home.

    3. In mudflow areas, construct channels to divert mudflows from your home.

    4. Construct interceptors along the possible paths of mudflows.


    1. If you are warned of an impending landslide or mudflow, evacuate at once.

    2. If you are inside a building during a landslide, stay inside and seek refuge under strong furniture.

    3. If you are outside and cannot get inside a building, get away from the path of landslide materials or seek refuge behind a sturdy tree or boulder.

    4. You can survive mudflow only by avoiding it. If you are in a valley, get out as soon as you hear rumbling sounds from upstream or when you feel the ground trembling. These are signs that mudflow may be coming your way.

    5. If caught in a mudflow, try grabbing on to a large rock, tree, or anything being carried along the flowing mud. This is one chance you may be able to survive.


    1. Check the foundation and walls of your home as well as the surrounding ground for damaged electrical and water lines.

    2. The community must exert effort to stabilize the new land for reinforcement against subsequent damage.

    3. Damaged land must be replanted.

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