Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has urged residents and communities living in geohazard-prone areas to be vigilant and to take precautionary measures against possible landslides and flash floods during heavy downpour.

“Residents and communities near mountains and within low-lying areas should be proactive by taking appropriate measures to minimize, if not prevent, any adverse impact of calamities,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu made the call after continuous heavy rains due to enhanced southwest monsoon or “habagat” triggered flash floods in Metro Manila and landslides in nearby provinces last weekend, leaving at least three people dead and displaced over 50,000 residents.

“The best way to prevent loss of lives and damage to properties during floods and landslides is for people to take precautionary measures,” Cimatu said. “By being prepared, we can reduce vulnerability to these natural hazards.”

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), a line bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has come up with tips and safety instructions during rain-induced landslides.

Antonio Apostol, officer-in-charge at MGB’s Lands Geological Survey Division, said residents should look out for fallen trees or fences, as these are signs of landslides.

“There are also other signs such as forms of water being blurred with soil and a loud resonance signifying a landslide coming,” he said.

Apostol urges residents to coordinate with concerned local government units and be updated on the latest news and landslide advisories issued by the DENR and MGB.

“Should the landslide take place when residents are inside their respective homes, if you are not able to go out, stay below sturdy furniture like tables and desks,” Apostol said.

For those outside their homes during a landslide, Apostol said he would advise them to go to the nearest higher and safer ground.

“If there’s no time to look for safer areas, just coil your body to protect your head from the incoming landslide,” he said.

Once the landslide is over, the MGB official said residents must immediately go to a safer place far away from the landslide area.

“Missing residents should also be reported to the concerned authorities, so that they can be included in the search and rescue operations,” he added.

Damaged electric posts or telephone lines should also be duly reported to the concerned offices. Residents can go back to their respective homes once local disaster risk officials have announced that the area is already safe.

“To be sure, they should check their homes if there are damages to be repaired so that it can be remedied immediately,” Apostol said. #