Tips on how to prepare for a shelter in case of a hurricane
Disaster and emergency response and health officials have offered tips to members of the public on how they should prepare for taking refuge at another residence or in a community shelter, in the event of a hurricane.
Weather experts report that the hurricane season officially runs from 1 June to 30 November, with August and September its peak months. Rainfall in Jamaica is highest between June and November, typically peaking during October and November.
Acting Director-General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Richard Thompson said it was important for Jamaicans to be prepared.
Speaking at a virtual town hall, hosted by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 response, in relation to the hurricane season he said one key advice was for a person to prepare an emergency bag with essentials that are easily identifiable and accessible that you can take with you in an emergency.
“We normally say make sure you have your comfort items and make sure you have your medications if you have to move. With COVID-19, everyone is carrying hand sanitiser and everyone is ensuring that they have their wipes, so you move with that as well. Make sure that you carry your non-perishables.
Have crackers, some food and supplies until the overall state mechanism can get fully up and running,” said Thompson.
Meanwhile, Acting Director of Emergency Medical Services in the Ministry of Health and Wellness and panellist at the virtual town hall, Dr Kurdell Espinosa Campbell, said that essential items for different family members can be grouped for easier identification and access.
Acting Director of Emergency Medical Services in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Kurdell Espinosa Campbell, at a recent virtual town hall, organised by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.
“Depending on the age group, if you have infants and children, you can put food items specific to the age group in Ziploc bags packed and ready to move. A similar approach can be taken for your elderly. Put their medication together in a designated area in a designated bag with their clothing, diapers, reading glasses and walking sticks. In addition to that, water is a good item to take with you,” the Acting Director said.
“Identifiable items like your passport, your driver’s licence and your national ID – put those in a Ziploc bag. If you have these, put them aside in a designated area. Use bright-coloured bags that you can see easily, especially if a disaster strikes at night. These are good first measures to take if you have to move quickly,” added Dr Espinosa Campbell.
The ODPEM also encourages persons to keep, on hand, fuel if needed, batteries and cash for use in emergencies.
For his part, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, sought to manage the expectations of persons who will utilise the shelters across the country.
“Shelters are not Five-star hotels. It is just a facility that is prepared to carry you for such hours. It is just a holding facility. It is not a place for cats, not a place for dogs. It is not somewhere to carry your pets. It is just a shelter that we are asking persons to come and stay until the worst has passed,” he explained.