Awaiting an Impending StormApr 01, 2012 00:00 SGT
By Nguyen Van Gia
Children are the most vulnerable in a storm. They are young and may not know what to do when a storm hits, where to seek help, or how to get to an evacuation centre – all of which are crucial in saving lives during a disaster.
That is the reason why we went straight to schools to remind them about emergency preparedness when we first received news that a tropical storm was about to hit Vietnam. Tropical Storm Pakhar is predicted to be a Category One storm commanding wind of up to 120km/h and bringing with it a storm surge of up to a metre high.
Many may not be aware, as this is not a typical time for a storm to hit Vietnam. Fishermen have been told to stay clear of the costs, and people in the storm path to prepare for evacuation. Officials managing the dam have also been told to manage the water levels in reservoirs to ensure that the dam does not break. At this time of the year – the dry season – the dam would usually be filled up for irrigation and other purposes.
At the Dinh Bo Linh school in Da Nang, teachers are acutely aware of the damages a storm like this could bring. During a storm in 2006, this school was badly damaged and required extensive rehabilitation. It is one of reasons why children are now taught to prepare for disasters. They sing songs on disaster risk reduction, hold on to booklets on how they can respond, and practice life-saving CPR that could save the lives of their families and friends.
“The first storm of the year is entering our area,” Nguyen Thanh Minh, a grade five student said. “We must be ready to protect ourselves.”
Minh and her schoolmates had a child-saving practice, in which many other students joined in. About 1000 students and 40 teachers joined in the drill – a small practice that could be the difference between life and death when a storm hits.
Children are the most vulnerable in a storm, but with the right preparation, they can also play a crucial role in minimizing its impact.
Save the Children has been working in Vietnam for nearly 30 years, delivering programs in the areas of child and maternal health, nutrition, education, child protection, disaster risk reduction and emergencies. We will continue to monitor the progress of the storm and respond as needed.