Yolanda paranoia: When fear of the unknown dulls our senses

by Ivy Lopez

While for others, “SELFIE” became 2013’s word of the year, for the Filipino people, it was “Yolanda” which left a trail. The super-typhoon ravaged not just people’s physical property but also hit them mentally and emotionally.

It was after the typhoon that people became more fearful that ever of light rains and even typical thunder and lightning would get them panicked as if another typhoon is about to come. They would immediately pack their things and go to the nearest evacuation centers leaving their house unsafe.

Indeed, Yolanda has concocted a mix of fear and helplessness in people’s minds, conditioning us to feel paranoid even on simple things.

According to Ms. Annabelle de Veyra, Chief Administrator of the Health Department of the Visayas region, Yolanda survivors need not only food to eat, a house to live and clothes to wear but importantly, they need psychological counseling.

Survivors have to undergo therapy in order to regain back their self-awareness, alertness, consciousness and reasonable thinking because after what happened, different scars have left us in panic and cramming all the way and back.

Who could forget the ‘tsunami scare’ that caused hundreds of families to move away from their houses in the middle of the night, carrying whatever they can as far away from the beachfront as possible?  A lot of people became upset afterwards, learning that the warning was fake, considering the stress and the effort they had to undergo.

That event serves as a reminder to us, that we must keep ourselves prepared, yet also properly informed.  We have to attend to various considerations before believing in information spread by other people who have nothing better to do but take advantage of the victims’ situation.

Though Yolanda has truly resulted to different dreadful consequences, (and surely, we wouldn’t want to face another force of nature such as a tsunami) people must keep their consciousness intact, and be responsible in determining the precision of such news.

After all, the negative effect of these rumors on a person affects not only one but everyone else around him and his environment.

Here are some tips in dealing with the threat of calamities:

  • Be prepared.  In your house (or office), prepare a container and keep a supply of your basic necessities–food (that doesn’t need cooking and water), drinking water supply, basic medicines, bandages,a flashlight, a change of clothing–in case you and your family may need to move out of your house.  Think ahead of where you can go in case of different kinds of calamities and plan on how you can transport your loved ones (including pets) to the said area.
  • Stay updated.  With access to information through texts and the web, getting information from reliable sources is easier and faster.  Search the web for hotline numbers and text advisories related to weather.  For instance, PAGASA has a twitter account: @dost_pagasa which you can follow.   
  • Be intelligent.  When you or a friend receives a text message saying a calamity is coming our way,learn to assess if the news came from a reliable source (e.g. PAGASA, PHIVOLCS, LGU). If not, double and triple-check.  That’s why it’s important to stay updated.
  • Keep calm. If the news is indeed true, don’t panic (At least not yet!).  Tell the people with you and prepare your course of action.  Are your most important belongings secure?  Is your house ready for the calamity?  If not, call the folks at the place where you intend to stay for safety.  Make sure all electrical connections are off and disconnected before you leave (It might cause another kind of problem).  Take the things you will need and proceed calmly.
  • Be responsible.   If you think the text message of the calamity is not true, don’t make the problem even bigger by forwarding it to someone else.  You don’t want to stress other people unnecessarily.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help and take part with the efforts of various sectors in educating and orienting people about the things they should be doing, the things they have to believe in and the people ang agencies they can ask help from.


Author: Ivy Lopez

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