Mon | Feb 6, 2023

Plan ahead for disasters

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The recent earthquake in Haiti reminds us of our vulnerability to catastrophes in these island nations. The desperate situation in our sister nation should be a trigger for us to prepare for any eventuality. Everyone should make plans for times of turmoil. As men, you will be required to meet much of the logistical dilemma which major disasters present to the nation. Here are some suggestions for facing these desperate situations.

Make a plan

We all need a disaster plan. Plan ahead with the worst-case scenario in mind. Ask yourself, what if? Having a written plan will help to reduce panic and guide you to react appropriately. Make sure that family members are aware of the plan and regularly review it with them. This may be a good time to discuss various possibilities with members of your household.

Secure your home

Other pre-disaster actions include ensuring that your home is structurally sound. Make sure that the stringent building codes are followed. Houses should be built to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes. Have a prearranged meeting place with family members.

Keep emergency water and food supplies in well-sealed containers. Keep the batteries for radios and lamps current. Solar-energy sources as well as gas or diesel generators are a viable option in this hurricane-prone region. Trim or remove trees near to the house that may become hazardous in a storm or an earthquake.

Practice drills

Drills to simulate fires, earthquakes and other sudden catastrophes should be done periodically. Insist that the drills are conducted at schools, workplaces and public places. It's a good idea to initiate these drills in homes too.

Important resources

Keep tuned to a radio or some reliable news source. Store passports and other important documents in a fireproof sealed container. Keep a small amount of cash hidden at home. This may be necessary if the usual sources of money are not available. People who take medications regularly should try to keep a month's supply.

Preparation is important

Living in the 21st century requires us to be prepared for earthquakes, hurricanes, riots and terrorist attacks. Men in particular will be called upon to guide their families through these exceptional times. Although we have little control over these events, preparation will ameliorate the traumatic experience. Keeping calm and maintaining our composure will allow us to make the best of a terrible situation. Faith in a caring and all-powerful God will provide the resource to deal with the challenges of catastrophes.


Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Haiti in their time of need. Let's assist wherever possible.

Dr Pauline Williams-Green is a family physician and president of the Caribbean College of Family Physicians; email: