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Bad advice: ODPEM dismisses quake tips from Doug Copp

Friday, January 29, 2010    

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JAMAICA'S Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) yesterday dismissed tips from American Doug Copp, who advised that people "don't simply duck and cover in an earthquake".

Copp's tips, widely circulated on the Internet, were published in Wednesday's edition of Environment Watch, a monthly publication of the Observer.

"We would like to note that the 10 tips you shared from Doug Copp are not corroborated by the ODPEM, the International Red Cross, Federal State and local emergency management experts and other official preparedness organisations," Ronald Jackson, director general of the ODPEM, said in a statement yesterday.

"As a matter of fact, his (Copp's) assertions that he has seen people who died from not using his method are not supported as his supposed experiment was a rescue exercise and did not simulate the lateral movement of earthquakes, making his results highly misleading," said Jackson.

He said that while the ODPEM did not wish to be highly critical of Copp, it wanted to reiterate that the recommended response during earthquakes should be the 'drop, cover and hold method'.

"Whether you are in your home, a school classroom, a high-rise or other type of building, it is important to know how to protect yourself during an earthquake," said the ODPEM boss. "The ODPEM conducts training in earthquake preparedness and monitors earthquake drills or simulation exercises. It is very important that you teach yourself and your family members to react automatically when the shaking starts."

He said people who are outdoors when the shaking starts, should get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls, and power lines.

Those indoors were asked to:

* Duck or drop down to the floor.

* Take cover under a sturdy desk, table, or other furniture. If that is not possible, seek cover against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid danger spots near windows, hanging objects, mirrors, or tall furniture.

* If you take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, hold on to it and be prepared to move with it. Hold the position until the ground stops shaking and it is safe to move.

Additional tips:

* If you're in a high-rise building, and you are not near a desk or table, move against an interior wall, and protect your head with your arms. Do not use the elevators.

* If you're outdoors, move to a clear area, away from trees, signs, buildings, or downed electrical wires and poles.

* If you're on a sidewalk near buildings, duck into a doorway to protect yourself from falling bricks, glass, plaster, and other debris.

* If you're driving, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses, power lines, and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over.

* If you're in a crowded store or other public place, do not rush for exits. Move away from display shelves containing objects that could fall.

* If you're in a wheelchair stay in it. Move to cover, if possible, lock your wheels, and protect your head with your arms.

* If you're in the kitchen, move away from the refrigerator, stove, and overhead cupboards.

* If you're in a stadium or theatre, stay in your seat and protect your head with your arms. Do not try to leave until the shaking is over. Then leave in a calm, orderly manner.

The ODPEM said, too, that after an earthquake people should be prepared for aftershocks, and plan where to take cover when they occur.

Said Jackson: "The ODPEM encourages all Jamaicans to remain calm and use these methods that have been tested and have saved numerous lives all over the world."

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