As emphasized by the tremors that shook Batangas just a few days ago and felt in Metro Manila, earthquakes can strike anytime. And since there have been warning that the Philippines, particularly those in the capital, should brace for the “big one” what should you do when an earthquake strikes? Sure, earthquake drills—drop, cover, and hold on—have been repeated time and time again, but what if you find yourself on the road?
Some day that driving during an earthquake is like driving with four flat tires. So keep these tips in mind to keep you and your passengers safe.
• Don’t panic and slow down gradually, as sudden braking may catch other drivers by surprise and cause an accident.
• Find a place to stop, preferably away from traffic and away from tall structures such as buildings, bridges, overpasses, underpasses, utility posts, and trees.
• Once you found a clear and safe place to park, stay in your vehicle with your seatbelts on. If you have to park your vehicle in a potentially dangerous environment, make sure you leave the area and search for a safer place to wait.
• While almost everyone relies on the internet and social network sites for news nowadays, these services may get disrupted. Turn on the radio and listen for updates. Regular radio programming will most likely switch to emergency broadcast so listen for any instruction the government may have.
• Stay off the phone (as not to congest the mobile network), unless you must report injuries, casualties, or impassable roads in your area.
• Drive only when the authorities have declared it safe to do so.
• If it cannot be helped, drive with caution. Avoid bridges or overpasses or ramps that might have been damaged by the quake. Look for cracks, breaks, or obstructions on the roads or surrounding structures as you drive.
• Do not drive over a fallen electrical line.
• Don’t forget about aftershocks.
• Always have an emergency kit in your car. Items you can put in there include: first aid kit including prescription medicine you may be taking, blanket, flashlight, handheld radio, spare batteries, dry food such as biscuits and crackers, and bottles of water. A fire extinguisher is also a good thing to have handy.
• Finally, remember that your safety and that of your passengers take priority over your vehicle. Never insist on staying inside your vehicle when it’s clearly unsafe to do so.