The hurricane season in Jamaica is between June 1 and November 30 each year. During this time, we experience increased rainfall with the most coming between September and October and petering off in November.
And this is generally still so, even with the changing weather patterns.
Note however that because of the island’s position, it has been speared many onslaughts brought on by hurricanes and thunderstorms, but has had its fair share of hits that sees it still affecting repairs and putting in infrastructures to combat the onslaught of hurricanes and heavy rains.
Jamaicans however, are always on high alert as there are various phases that we go through when hurricane season comes along. For some, it’s all year round while for others it’s just seasonal.
These phases are termed before, during, and after the hurricane and the Office of Disaster Preparedness (ODPEM) – the statutory body that operates out of the Office of the Prime Minister with a Board of Management overseeing its activities, and whose main role is to provide disaster management functions – puts out regular reminders in the form of advertisements and flyers to ensure that Jamaicans do all they can to ensure their safety and the loss of lives during and after the hurricane.
The Meteorological Service of Jamaica (MET Service) which is concerned with the observation and forecasting of weather conditions over and around the island, maintains a continuous hurricane watch during the hurricane season and issues severe warnings and other pertinent information to ensure Jamaicans are kept safe.
Jamaicans are kept abreast of the happenings, do's and don't and all other pertinent information by both bodies before, during and after the hurricane.
THE PHASES OF HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS
PHASE 1: Before The Hurricane
The first phase speaks to the preparations before the hurricane season comes upon us. This is where persons ensure that their homes are safe to withstand hurricane winds and rains by repairing and putting in the basic infrastructure needed and cutting away trees in close proximity to houses to ensure the house is safe.
They also ensure that their survival kits are ready and fully equipped with their basic needs for a minimum of three days for each family member.
During this phase, people are advised to wrap their valuable documents in plastic and secure them properly in very high areas in the event there is a flood.
Persons living in flood-prone areas are also advised to ensure that they know where the nearest emergency shelter is to their home and how to get there in the event their life is threatened. Animals are also to be planned for during this time.
PHASE 2: During the hurricane
During this time we are encouraged to stay tuned to the radio or television (providing there is electricity) to get the latest updates on the hurricane.
We are also encouraged to remain inside our houses unless there is a dire need for us to be outside. During this phase, we are encouraged to be calm and think logically and in the event, that danger lurks, we are to seek safety.
PHASE 3: After the hurricane
Also known as the preventative phase. During this phase, we are encouraged to report any broken water or sewage main, boil all water for consumption, seek medical assistance in the event there are injuries to persons or the need for medication for a certain illness, and most importantly, not to venture outside barefooted or touch broken or fallen electrical wires.
It is recommended that you have a Survival Kit during hurricanes. It is advisable that persons equip the kits for a minimum of three – seven days for each individual in the household.
They contain water stored in plastic containers, non-perishable food items, a First Aid Kit (equipped with bandages in all sizes, sterile gauze pads, over-the-counter painkillers, alcohol, cotton, pair of scissors, needle and thread, safety pins, and if on prescription medications it’s advised that an extra supply be placed in the kit), basic tools and supplies (such as batteries for radio, candles, flashlight, utility knife, can opener), toiletries and other sanitation items, and clothing and bedding for each person.
The survival kits should be replenished before the next hurricane comes around and items which have expired replaced with current items. The survival kits are to be properly stored and easily accessible during the hurricane both for use by the family members and in the event they are displaced from their homes they should have access to it in the shelters.
So with proper planning and following the directives and warnings, we should be all safe during and after the hurricane.
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