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Flooding in Pakistan in 2010 affected 20 million people. Photo: Ashraf Mall/Tearfund

From: Managing disasters – Footsteps 88

How to prepare for disasters and reduce the risk of them occuring

Preparing for floods

Two people filling a bag with seeds.

Preparing for windstorms

A grass roof covered with fishing nets weighed down with stones.

Preparing for earthquakes

Practice the earthquake procedure of ‘drop, cover and hold on’.

Drop! Cover! Hold on!

 A family sheltering under a table.

You should take the following steps to protect yourself and others:

Please note: Around the world, most buildings do not collapse in an earthquake. You are much more likely to be seriously injured by falling objects, breaking glass or falling down stairs exiting the building. However if you are in a particularly vulnerable building you should try to move outside to an open space as quickly as possible. These buildings include:

Preparing an emergency box 

An emergency box

Keep and maintain a box of emergency supplies. It should include torch (flashlight), dry matches and candles, First Aid materials, a bar of soap, basic medicines, water and some dry food supplies. You might also want to store personal items such as passports, identity cards, certificates, land documents and cash in a safe place so that you can find them quickly in an emergency. In the case of flooding, it is wise to store these items in a waterproof bag. If you have a mobile phone, make sure it is charged and has key contact numbers on it (including the local government and emergency services where possible).


A community evacuation route marked out with a clear sign.

Shelter: Where there is a threat of windstorms and flooding, the community should choose a safe place where families can shelter for the duration of the storm. This needs to be on high ground and should have plenty of space for members of the community. In some countries, the government or NGOs have built strong cyclone shelters which are raised off the ground on pillars. Often schools, churches, mosques or government offices are used. They need to be cleared and prepared before the storm arrives.

Route: Next the community should mark out a series of evacuation routes to the shelter with clear signs, either on white-topped posts or painted on the walls of houses or on tree trunks. These white marks will help people to find their way to a place of shelter, even in darkness or in flooding.

Please note: Take special care of elderly people, disabled people, pregnant women, those with long-term sickness and young children. These people should be evacuated quickly and with support from family members or volunteers.

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