We are all vulnerable to disasters. Earthquakes, typhoons, and tsunamis don’t pick and choose their victims. Neither do accidents and other extraordinary situations.
However, vulnerability shouldn’t equate to helplessness. There are steps that we can all take to ensure that our loved ones and communities have a better chance at staying safe.
Improving safety is about learning life skills and educating each other about what to do when confronted with danger.
The chances of staying safe during times of crisis can increase exponentially with the right amount of education and preparation. You don’t have to be a doctor to learn first aid, a race car driver to learn about road safety, or a government official to help prepare communities to keep safe from natural disasters. By taking the time to learn about these things, and sharing your knowledge, you can make a difference too.
There are regular people around the world, from all walks of life and age groups, spreading this message to take safety seriously.
This problem isn’t localized in any one region, either. Safety education is a topic that is important to every nation, and here are some examples of people that are trying to help their communities take safety more seriously through action and education.
Spurred on by the storms, floods, and other disasters that occur in his native Thailand, Boonpeng In-Kaew spends his life on a quest to protect those around him. For Boonpeng, being a senior citizen was an additional factor that inspired him to learn more about safety.
Now in his late 70s, Boonpeng chooses to use his time helping educate people about disaster risk reduction. Boonpeng is driven by a strong belief that everyone deserves a fair chance at surviving disasters – especially the most vulnerable like young children and senior citizens who are not easily able to move themselves during an emergency.
When most people would be thinking about how to focus on simply enjoying their golden years, Boonpeng has instead become a pillar of his community and an inspiration to his countrymen.
Jesyl and Danica
Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 was a disaster that forever changed the lives of Jesyl and Danica, two sisters from the island of Zumaragga in the Philippine province of Samar.
Though they were only children at the time, they bore witness to the suffering that happens when an ill-prepared area is hit with nature’s fury. This is what inspired them to lead the School-Watching Emergency Response Team (SWERT). The sisters, who started SWERT while still in school, now train other young students and arm them with the skills and planning capabilities needed to survive future disasters.
While most girls their age would be worried about regular teenage problems, Jesyl and Danica have instead become shining examples of what can happen when people take it upon themselves to help their communities.
Hotlin Ompusunggu is a dentist by trade and is also an active conservationist from Indonesia.
In 2005, she organized a medical team that provided aid to victims of the tsunami in Aceh. She was in close contact with those who had lost everything and knows the difference that education and preparation can make. That’s why she is on a mission on to spread safety awareness to her fellow Indonesians.
She also goes one step further and fights to protect both human health and the environment. Through her Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) organization, which is based in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan region, Hotlin protects both humans and orangutans. She does this by providing villages with healthcare incentives in exchange for an end to harmful logging practices.
Albert Lin is an adventurer who explores breathtaking areas like oceans, mountains, caves, and deserts. His travels have made him keenly aware of the sheer power of nature, and how helpless humans can be if they don’t understand how to protect themselves from natural disasters.
He wants to use his platform to be an advocate for safety and help inspire people across the globe to do their part in making the world a safer place.
As an explorer, Albert understands that meticulous preparation along with education about potential dangers is what keeps him safe. He believes that everyone else deserves to protect themselves the way he does – because he knows it isn’t only daredevils who need to actively learn about safety.
Prasenjeet Yadav is a molecular ecologist and science photographer. He uses his abilities in visual storytelling to bridge the gap between the scientific and non-scientific communities. Having grown up on a farm, he seeks to inspire others to better understand nature and discover a passion for conservation and ecology.
Prasenjeet understands that disaster can strike without warning, which is why good preparation and education has immense value. He’s observed nature closely enough during his travels to understand the risks that the natural world can pose and has an immense respect for it.
This has made him realize that knowledge about first aid training can help people survive accidents and other mishaps. That’s why he works diligently to teach people around him about the importance of first aid.
First aid is not just about knowing how to use a medical kit, according to Prasenjeet. It’s also about having the mindset to be prepared for when things go wrong: not to panic, but to solve the issue at hand. He feels that everyone should adopt a similar mindset, because you never know when you might be called on to help yourself or someone in need.
Everybody deserves to be safe
Everyone mentioned above shares a fundamental belief that too many lives are needlessly lost. In their unique ways, they are reminding the rest of us that safety is not an individual issue. Making the world safer involves educating all communities to be more disaster-aware, more environmentally conscious, and preparing them to act at a moment’s notice.
If anything, the Covid-19 pandemic reminded us about how important education can be when things go wrong. Understanding proper safety techniques and hygiene protocols helped many people stay safe. When enough people act, many lives can be preserved. We should all take safety more seriously, and more importantly, educate ourselves about what we can do to protect ourselves when times of need arise. If all of us take the time to do this, we can then become heroes for our own communities.
There’s power in numbers, and the global net of protection increases exponentially for every individual that makes the effort to take safety more seriously.