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Earthquake preparations major component of disaster management

Saturday, October 20, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Earthquakes and tsunamis are an ever-present threat to Jamaica. The country's location on multiple geological faults subjects it to up to an average of 200 earthquakes per year.

This natural disposition, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) Director General, Major Clive Davis, told JIS News, is the reason earthquake and tsunami preparations are critical components of the entity's Disaster Management Programme.

He said that lives can be saved by following the procedures that exist to prepare for and manage such disasters.

While persons are aware of the safety measures during an earthquake, such as standing in a strong doorway or crawling beneath a desk or table, there are things that they can do before a seismic event in order to mitigate damage and loss.

In the home and workplace, it is advised that shelves and tall, standing furniture be bolted to the wall.

Also, persons should avoid hanging mirrors and heavy photographs over sitting areas and use Velcro to secure fragile items or light appliances displayed on shelves and bookcases. It is also vital to ensure that the foundation of the building is strong.

The ODPEM continues to share these safety measures through presentations and earthquake drills in schools and communities islandwide.

Major Davis is encouraging Jamaicans to be more proactive in disaster preparation at the community level.

He also recommends becoming aligned with credible news sources and to desist from sharing fake news about matters of national safety.

“We can put any amount of information out there. We can saturate every media that is available to us, but we can do nothing without [public] support. Their response to our information is critical to survival in the event of any kind of adverse impact on the country,” Major Davis shared.

He said that in preparing for earthquakes “there are four areas that we must get right. One is land management, the other is how we build to manage seismic hazard, third is public education and sensitsation about earthquakes and last, individual response during an earthquake”.

To strengthen the country's resilience against disasters, work has been done to pass a modern building law to set the acceptable local and international standards for construction, and municipal corporations now play a greater role in disaster risk management.

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