Lim Guohao, Published in TODAY‘s Voices Column
We observed Total Defence Day on Monday. Besides having frequent fire drills in schools and workplaces, and playing advertisements on TV and radio to raise awareness of global terrorist threats, maybe we should also look into how we can prepare ourselves for times of need.
What I have observed is that many household shelters are used as storerooms, but there are no television or radio sets kept inside. This raises the question of how people will receive crucial information disseminated in times of emergency.
Some households even fit large cupboards in these shelters, which does not leave space for people to seek shelter in periods of need. Some doors are even damaged or unable to shut.
Many people also have little awareness of or do not prepare for emergencies. They do not stock up on dried goods or self-protection equipment in their household shelters.
As we look back to the quake in Taiwan that happened two weeks ago, we see cases of victims being unprepared and unable to save themselves because they did not prepare items such as torchlights, whistles, water or food.
Instead of just installing fire alarms and conducting evacuation drills, the authorities should train people in basic survival skills and also help people to repair or reinstate their household shelters, otherwise these facilities will be useless and redundant in times of emergency.