Thu | May 6, 2021

Conduct safety drills at home – JFB commissioner

Published:Friday | January 15, 2021 | 12:19 AM

Jamaicans are being encouraged to practise safety drills at home and develop comprehensive emergency plans for their households, particularly now that more persons are spending time at home.

The call comes from the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) and the Earthquake Unit at The University of the West Indies, Mona.

Speaking during the launch of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) Earthquake and Tsunami Awareness Campaign on January 11, the JFB’s Acting Assistant Commissioner and Officer in charge of the Fire Prevention Division, Emilio Ebanks, urged persons to practise drills as part of disaster-preparation safeguards.

“One of the things you should not do is go back into a building, in any kind of disaster, which is why preparation is key. You need to know the ‘dos and don’ts’. We would have been speaking about the drop, cover, hold in the case of earthquakes, but you have to make sure that you are in constant practice of all the things that you want to do,” Ebanks said.

While noting that schools had been staging these drills, Ebanks said that the ODPEM “is changing the dynamics [due to COVID-19], so we have to be doing these things now for the homes”.

Echoing his sentiments was scientific officer at the Earthquake Unit, Karleen Black, who shared some areas that should be covered in an emergency plan.

“Whatever happens at the workplace and the schools needs to be happening at home. So parents need to have these drills with their children, and the children need to know where the safe spots in the house are,” she noted.


Additionally, Black said it is equally important that when children are at school, they know who to contact if parents are unable to pick them up.

“You need to have your escape route. You need to know where you are going to go, and if you are separated, you need to know what to do so that you can find each other,” Black shared.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Ebanks also pointed out that an often-overlooked part of emergency plans is who will assume responsibility for family members with disabilities or special needs during an emergency and how they will be evacuated.

In light of this, he stressed the need for each family member to be familiar with a standard plan and the assigned responsibilities.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Earthquake and Tsunami Awareness Campaign is being staged under the theme ‘Reimagining Earthquake Safety to Build Resilience’.