ODPEM offers shelter tips for hurricane season

DISASTER and emergency response experts, as well as 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 pending hurricane.

One key advice is 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 acting director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) Richard Thompson.

He was 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.

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.

“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 [identification] — 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 people to keep fuel on hand, if needed, batteries and cash for use in emergencies.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie, meanwhile, told people who will likely utilise the shelters across the country that shelters are just what the facilities are.

“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 said.

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