Are you storm-ready?


Are you storm-ready?


Sunday, July 26, 2020

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MOST of us would've heard about Tropical Storm Gonzalo by now and know that it is approaching the Caribbean. Were it to affect Jamaica, how prepared would you be?

Since a storm not only threatens the physical infrastructure of the island but also poses serious threat to life, health and wellness, what should you know?

You must:

1. Be willing to relocate if your area is flood prone or given to landslides. Start scouting out family and friends who may be willing to assist in this area, or be ready to make use of government shelters.

2. Make sure you have sufficient emergency supplies for three to five days: safe drinking water, and non-perishable food items such as canned goods, bread, crackers, et cetera. Also, ensure you have a battery-operated radio and credit for phones already charged, fresh batteries, lamps and flashlights, a first aid kit, and medication, if needed.

3. Be sure to pay keen attention to weather advisories issued by the authorities.

4. Keep important documents safe, such as in a sealed plastic bag, to avoid the headache of having to replace them.

5. Similarly, cover furniture with heavy plastic or tarpaulin and remove them from near windows and doors to prevent them from getting wet and damaged.

6. Be mindful of health hazards. Trim trees that could fall on houses and cause damage. Have your roof, doors and windows inspected and reinforced, if necessary. Get rid of nearby shrubs and try to have drains cleaned.

7. Use sandbags or heavy tape to block doorways so as to prevent flood waters from entering.

8. Stay indoors for the full passage of a storm. Leave anything that you did not get to secure, and try not to risk going outside while the storm is blowing over. One man tried to prevent his vehicle from overturning and it turned over on him. Please, do not be fooled into thinking that a moment of respite means that the storm is over. That may be the eye of the storm, after which stronger, more destructive winds may pick up again.

9. Surviving the passage of the storm is one thing but be careful after it has passed, since flooding and landslides may still be possible. Also, be mindful of downed wires or those that become loose or are low- hanging, or any tree limbs that may touch them.

The year 2020 has so far blown us many a surprise with COVID-19 and the Saharan dust. Now it's the menacing hurricane season that runs from June 1 to November 30, and we have a little way to go before the storm threats die down.

Surely, were Jamaica to be hit by a storm the havoc already wreaked by the novel coronavirus would intensify. Be on the alert, therefore, and act with good judgement as we seek to preserve our own health and lives, plus that of others.

Warrick Lattibeaudiere (PhD), a minister of religion for the past 22 years, lectures full-time in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

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