The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is reminding citizens to have a plan of action and be prepared this hurricane season.
Addressing a disaster preparedness town hall hosted by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, in Rocky Point, Clarendon, on July 7, ODPEM Regional Coordinator, Camille Beckford-Palmer, cited preparedness work done in the parish and shared tips that can be implemented islandwide.
Along with the mitigation activities of drain cleaning, tree trimming and ensuring that one’s infrastructure is up to standard to withstand a natural hazard, Mrs. Beckford-Palmer encouraged individual alertness and cautioned against complacency.
“We cannot just go about our daily lives saying ‘oh yes, this is going to happen again and it is not going to affect me’. We need to just know our environment and know what is around us. Know where you live, we implore you to know your specific location,” she advised.
She explained that knowing your environment entails being aware of specific primary and secondary hazards that affect your community and how to respond to each, the most at-risk areas and safer locations within the community, along with the established evacuation routes.
“We also encourage everybody to know your alternative safe location. Are there friends and family you can stay with [as your] first choice? And your last resort should be your shelter. Ensure that you have your emergency contact numbers. Your first point of reference out of the community would be the municipal corporation. Know the numbers for your municipal corporation,” the Regional Coordinator emphasised.
In each parish, ODPEM’s coordinators work closely with representatives from the respective municipal corporations, the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Social Development Commission, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, to ensure the safety of residents during a natural hazard.
They also collaborate to facilitate the training of community members as part of preparedness activities throughout the year. Training includes first aid, simulations and drills.
“At the community level we want to ensure that everybody is involved and when you see the agencies come around to do these activities, don’t just stand by the wayside. Participate, because they are meaningful activities. We are encouraging everybody, become a part of the established community groups where you will be able to know what to do in the event of an emergency,” Mrs. Beckford-Palmer said.
The Regional Coordinator also encouraged persons to have emergency supplies on hand.
“Try to ensure that you do the things to keep you safe in the event of a hazard. Make sure that after an event you try to build back better. Try to ensure that the way the storm hit you this year, that next year it doesn’t hit you the exact way. I know times are hard, but we have to try,” Mrs. Beckford-Palmer implored.
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