Natural disasters are catastrophic events, caused by natural processes of the planet. These disasters often come without warning, and are responsible for disrupting the ecosystem, and causing damage to personal lives, property, transportation, and livelihood. The recent Cyclone Fani that hit Odisha is a testament to the loss and devastation that is brought on by natural disasters. While it is never possible to prevent a disaster, the damage can be minimized through timely preparation. As such, every natural disaster has its own set of precautions to be taken, which must be followed to save precious lives.
The Odisha government has been applauded for their preparedness and quick actions during the recent Cyclone Fani attack.
Earthquakes are caused by the shifting of tectonic plates under the earth’s crust, and it is responsible for mass destruction. When faced with an earthquake, these tips can be of use:
If you are indoors:
- Drop to the ground; take cover by getting under a sturdy table or other pieces of furniture, and hold on until the shaking stops
- Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture
- Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
- Do not use the elevators
If you are outdoors:
- Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires
- Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects
Tsunamis are a series of gargantuan ocean waves that are caused by earthquakes, underwater landslides or volcanic eruptions. These waves of destruction range from tens to hundreds of feet tall, and can travel twenty to thirty miles per hour. When faced with this phenomenon, these tips are to be followed:
- Turn on your radio/TV to learn if there is a tsunami warning if an earthquake occurs and you are in a coastal area
- Move inland to higher ground immediately and stay there
- Check for a noticeable recession in water away from the shoreline as this is nature’s tsunami warning and it should be heeded. You should move away immediately
- Stay away from flooded and damaged areas until officials say it is safe to return
- Stay away from debris in the water; it may pose a safety hazard to boats and people
Cyclones are tropical storms, caused by atmospheric disturbances around a low-pressure area. These are accompanied by strong winds, moving at a speed of sixty-two kmph or more. When faced with a cyclone keep these tips in mind:
- Be alert to changing weather conditions
- Listen to radio/TV for the latest information
- Look for approaching storms
- Look for the following warning signs: – Dark, often greenish sky – Large hailstones, a large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating), loud roars, similar to a freight train
- If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately
- If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately. NOTE: In places where you have designated cyclone shelters – take shelter there
Floods are among the earth’s most common and most dangerous natural hazards. They are formed due to a flow of water on areas of land that are usually dry. Excessive rain, damage to nearby dams and tsunamis are some of its causes. When faced with flooding, these tips are to be followed:
- Do not attempt to walk, swim or drive through the floods. Floodwater contains debris and contamination and can also be deadly in case of electrical lines having fallen in the water
- Stay clear of bridges over fast-moving water
- Keep an eye out for evacuation alerts
- Move to higher ground
- If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay inside. If water starts filling inside the vehicle, then seek refuge on the roof
Apart from following the mentioned tips, it is imperative to stay calm during times of disaster and keep helpline numbers 102 and 108 handy to reach out to emergency medical services when aid/assistance is needed. Ziqitza Healthcare Limited (ZHL), a leading emergency response company operating 108 and 102 Ambulances in Odisha recently helped rescue more than 3000 people across 5 districts in the state during Cyclone Fani. In the past too, ZHL has provided medical rescue and aid during floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.