First World vs. Third World Disaster Preparedness

It is a week of typhoons here in the Philippines. As pointed out by CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera in his Twitter account:

No rest for recovery. I’m tracking yet another dangerous #typhoon headed right for the #Philippines. Details on CNN next.

The Philippines was badly hit by typhoon Pedring earlier this week, resulting to the destruction of the seawall that led to the spillage of water from Manila Bay to Roxas Boulevard, all the way to Taft Avenue. Establishments, most of which have become landmarks in the picturesque tourist spot, have closed down due to floods and brownouts.

In other areas, water levels are rising, especially in the Bulacan province. People have been staying on the roofs of their houses for days, waiting to be rescued, and running out of food. And yet, this weekend, another typhoon, Quiel, is set to hit Luzon again.

It is time for us Filipinos to pack our emergency kits and Go Bags. Times like these, a typical list for Filipinos during typhoons include:

  1. Canned goods especially sardines and corned beef
  2. Rice and bread
  3. Candles
  4. Matches
  5. Flashlight with batteries
  6. Giant fan or pamaypay (preferably anahaw)
  7. Empty 5-gallon water container or any suitable flotation device
  8. Drinking water
  9. Transistor radio with batteries
  10. Cellphones – charged and loaded
  11. Jackets, raincoats, and life vests
  12. First aid kit

These are just the basics, but most households cannot even afford to store them. What a striking contrast to citizens of richer countries. Recently, a storm hit New York and even my Filipino friends on Facebook posted about how they were stocking up on essentials from the hardware store.

After typhoon Ondoy hit the Philippines in 2009, my sister from the US sent me her emergency kit. This may be typically stored in the emergency kits and Go Bags of most households in the US:


  1. First Aid Kit
  2. Crank radio/ flashlight/ cell charger
  3. Flashlight
  4. Radio
  5. Simple Whistle
  6. All season blanket
  7. Emergency blanket
  8. Ponchos
  9. Fleece jacket
  10. UPF-50 shirt
  11. Long pants
  12. Hiking boots
  13. Waterproof jacket
  14. Umbrella
  15. Gasmask (N95)
  16. Waterproof matches
  17. Emergency candles
  18. Work gloves
  19. Camping knife
  20. Cooking pot
  21. Metal Spoon/Fork
  22. Can opener
  23. Small lysol spray
  24. Box cutter knife
  25. Plastic sheet
  26. Duct tape
  27. Mirror
  28. Tootbrush/toothpaste
  29. Comb
  30. Toilet Paper
  31. Personal Wipes
  32. 5-gallon water carrier
  33. Water purification tablets
  34. Water purification bottle
  35. Water purification system
  36. Scissors
  37. Notepad + Pen
  38. Playing cards
  39. Energy bars
  40. Bottled water
  41. Garbage bag 

My very practical sister, instead of sending us Spam in her balibayan boxes, sends us stuff from this list, school supplies, and other household items.

During the brownout caused by Pedring’s howling winds last Tuesday, my family was surrounded by these gadgets:

1. Eton Solar, Hand Crank Radio, Flashlight and Cell Phone Charger

The Eton-American Red Cross FR-150 Microlink is a Solar-Powered, Self-Powered AM/FM/Weatherband Portable Radio with Flashlight and Cell Phone Charger. It is designed to keep you in touch with the rest of the world, even when you are miles away from civilization. It has a high-quality AM/FM tuner, providing you with news, entertainment and public service announcements. It also integrates a NOAA Weather Band receiver that brings you weather forecasts, alerts and other emergency messages–information vital to backpackers and travelers. It has reliable flashlight and can also charge your cell phone. Cell phone charger supports over 2,000 different cell phone models. This can be a very good gift idea for Father’s day or some other special occasion.

2. Eton FR1000 Voicelink self-powered hand-crank radio

It combines 2 Way GMRS technology, analog tuner receives seven NOAA weather bands, AM, and FM signals to prepare you for any emergency situation. Eton FR1000 Voicelink also built in flashlight with six bright white LED, emergency siren alerts and cell phone charger.

Other Eton FR1000 Voicelink features include a 3.5mm headphone output, a microphone jack, an external speaker, a digital clock alarm/snooze function, an LCD display and a battery meter indicator.

3. Jeep Crank Flashlight with Compass

4. Coleman waterproof matches

5. All the batteries we will ever need, AA or AAA, rechargeable or disposable:

6. A conveniently-packaged fire extinguisher:

And so much more. We have ponchos, ropes, pocket knives, garbage bags, gloves, energy bars, and most of the things found on the list above. I know we are blessed to have these, as well as other gifts from our relatives abroad, to help us prepare for typhoons and other disasters.

Filipinos, however, are resourceful and resilient, as I posted here. We make do with what we have and always find the humor in everything. Those are two things I love about our people.

How about you, what are your lifesavers? Leave a comment and let’s make a more comprehensive list for Filipinos, and hope that we get them to each household.

Let’s pray that the typhoon not bring too much destruction this weekend.


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