For a country blooming with richness, with its diversity, culture, history and resources, India is astoundingly unprepared when it comes to facing natural disasters.
In the Uttarakhand floods that rampaged in 2013, over 5,000 people lost their lives. In Gujarat, when the earthquake hit in 2001, 20,000 people lost their lives and over 400,000 were left injured. In more recent and local news in 2017, hundreds were left injured or dead in the Elphinstone Bridge stampede, and officials only blamed it on the rain, confusion and crowd. The ‘chaos and crowd’ excuse was employed again when in late December last year, several people lost their lives tragically in the Kamala Mills Fire.
One thing that all of these incidents have in common is that if we had better disaster control, the number of people affected could have been dramatically decreased. This being said, some fatal accidents like the Bhopal Gas Tragedy could have been prevented altogether with better infrastructure and equipment.
We may not have the power to save hundreds and thousands of people, but we can, and certainly must take several precautionary methods to save ourselves, in case the need strikes. Below are three common accidents, their prevention and how to deal with them.
Preventative measures for road accidents
• Always wear your safety belt
• NEVER drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs
• Limit your passengers.
• Keep it slow and safe for starters.
• Train for poor weather conditions.
• Limit your cell phone use for emergencies only.
• In case of an accident, first, check yourself for injuries, call for help, and get out of the vehicles as soon as possible.
In case of a fire
• Contact your local fire department immediately.
• Pull the nearest fire alarm.
• If you are enclosed in a room, always touch the door to see if it’s warm. If it’s not warm, you have the opportunity to leave.
• If you see smoke crawling under your door, try to place a piece of moist clothing or towel to block the smoke from coming in.
• If you find yourself trapped in a room, keep the door closed and open all windows. Make sure you place some form of clothing hanging outside your window, preferably white. This will alert the fire department that there’s someone in that room.
In case of a stampede
• If you are in a crowd, mentally notice alternate exits. No matter where you are, make sure you always know how to get out.
• Be aware and don’t lose your ground – try not to panic and instead focus on finding the nearest exits.
• If you find yourself in the middle of a moving crowd, do not fight against the pressure, do not stand still or sit down, because you could easily get trampled. Instead, move in the same direction of the crowd.
• Keep your hands up by your chest, like a boxer – it gives you movement and protects your chest.
• If you fall, get up quickly. If you can’t get up because you are injured, get someone to pull you back up. If you have kids, lift them up.
• If you fall and cannot get up, keep moving by crawling in the same direction of the crowd, or if that is not possible, then cover your head with your arms and curl up into the fetal position
As many technological advancements we make as humans, we may never be able to conquer the forces of nature, which is why it’s always important to prepare for the worst, arm yourself with the required materials and a calm mind to face any natural disaster.