Wed | Dec 1, 2021

J'cans urged to make buildings earthquake resistant

Published:Friday | October 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ronald Jackson is urging Jamaicans to invest in reinforcing structures to withstand a high-magnitude earthquake.

He said that while seismic activity throughout the Caribbean since the start of the year does not suggest that Jamaica will experience a major earthquake, citizens must be vigilant.

Jackson noted that Jamaica's national architecture for dealing with emergency responses is ranked better than many of the other islands, however, citizens should ensure that their buildings are retrofitted to be more earthquake resistant.

"The fact is that we do have seismic hazards that can affect us at any time, and it really is about how well we prepare ourselves in the event that it happens, or how well we invest in more resilient infrastructure to be able to withstand any high-magnitude or any shallow event," he pointed out.

Jackson was speaking in an interview with journalists following a media-appreciation luncheon at the University of the West Indies' Western Jamaica Campus in Montego Bay earlier this week.

The CDEMA head emphasised that preparedness is key to reducing risks, exposure, as well as susceptibility to the jolts of a high-magnitude earthquake.

"We need to look at how we are constructing new buildings, where we site them," he said.

"In terms of the actual event itself, we have to really now look at understanding the immediate reactions that are necessary - the duck, cover, hold routine - and ensure that if you are at a school, business, or any government institution ... that you know what steps to take in terms of evacuating the building, assembling in safe spaces, and ensuring you have wardens in the buildings, especially if you are multistorey," he advised.

Jackson said that these measures should be "properly coordinated, rehearsed, and exercised at the organisational level to make them effective".