KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb. 7, CMC – The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is urging Jamaicans to develop a family emergency plan, which is integral in preparing for disasters such as a hurricane or earthquake.
Family members should be assigned specific areas of responsibility during an emergency, such as calling an ambulance or the police, and each person should agree on an assembly point.
“You need to identify where in your yard, apartment or townhouse is a clear space for you to go and assemble or to wait it out,” ODPEM’s Director of Information and Training, Delmares White, told the Jamaica Information Service.
“We want persons to recognise that structures can fail and a lot of times, people get injured from earthquakes because of the structure. That is why we say after the ‘drop, cover, hold’, you leave the structure, go to a clear area to make an assessment if you can go back in or if you need to leave that area,” she advised.
ODPEM’s Marketing Manager, David Nation, for his part, emphasised the need for Jamaicans to be in a constant state-of-readiness for earthquakes and tsunamis since neither hazard can be predicted.
“You will want to have a kit, which will include flashlight, medication and those kinds of things. Everyone should know where the kit is,” he noted.
The emergency kit, which must be checked regularly, should also contain important documents such as passport, birth certificate and house title and should be placed in a secure area.
Nation said that children must be familiar with their address, home phone number, and their parents’ cell or work numbers.
“You will find that there are children who don’t know where they live; they don’t know their parents’ phone number and that, in a disaster, can cause some problems,” he noted.
While tsunamis are infrequent, it is important for Jamaicans to know the warning signs and learn how to protect themselves.
ODPEM has advised that it is important for beachgoers to look for the natural signs of a tsunami and employ the ‘feel, see, hear and run’ technique in order to save lives.
Strong earthquakes may cause tsunamis, so once an earthquake is felt, persons are advised to look for signs of water withdrawing an unusual distance from the shore. If they hear a roaring sound from the ocean, they should run as far inland as possible and seek elevation.