Children and youth with disabilities should be prepared in case a 7.2-magnitude earthquake strikes the country.
To ensure the youth’s readiness, the “Emergency Preparedness Forum 2018” was held at the SMX Convention Center on Monday to discuss the risks and dangers in case of a large-scale earthquake.
The forum was led by officials of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), and SM Cares.
Lotta Sylwander, the Philippines representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), noted that 5.1 million Filipino children living with disabilities would be left “most vulnerable” should a disaster hit the country.
Sylwander also said that while around 1.5 million of these children were in need of assistive devices, but only five percent of them have access to such tools.
“Disability subjects the person to a vicious cycle of deprivation,” Sylwander said during the forum. “Children with disabilities are most vulnerable to any kind of disaster.”
Dr. Renato Solidum Jr., director of Phivolcs, acknowledged the vulnerability of children and youth with disabilities in times of disaster.
This was why the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council – Office of Civil Defense endorsed the “Lahat Handa” training manual, an inclusive community disaster risk reduction and management training.
The training manual promotes the rights and capacities of children, youth, older people and persons with disabilities.
“These vulnerable children, especially those with disabilities, if they are not informed of what to do, they would not anticipate and prepare (in case of an earthquake hits),” Solidum told reporters in a chance interview.
Unlike floods that would mostly affect flat areas, Solidum said that an earthquake would affect everyone even if they were residing in higher areas.
“Some of them (children with disabilities) wouldn’t be able to duck, cover and hold under tables, so they should identify the safest area in the room, where no debris would fall on them,” the Phivolcs director said.
“(If they use wheelchairs), they should fix it to ensure stability, and everyone should be informed of their buildings’ respective evacuation routes. They should also pinpoint the safe parts of a building in case of an earthquake,” Solidum added./ac