KINGSTON — The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) will mark June as Disaster Preparedness Month under the theme: 'Disaster Preparedness: From Awareness to Action,' with the aim of galvanizing Jamaicans to be more proactive in preparing for disasters.
Director of Information and Training at ODPEM, Krechet Douglas-Greaves, speaking at a JIS Think Tank this morning, pointed to the need for a cultural shift as it relates to disaster preparedness.
"We already know that the hurricane season begins in June and ends in November but when a hurricane watch is issued, it somehow finds us in the supermarkets and the hardware stores doing last minute preparation," she noted.
"We want to effect a shift in that behaviour to one of a proactive state of being, where we make the business of disaster preparedness a yearlong event," she stated.
Suggesting ways in which Jamaicans could sufficiently prepare for disasters, she mentioned purchasing and storing extra canned food items and increasing water storage capacity at home in the event of water lock offs.
She noted further that, "budgeting at the end of every month and acquiring items that are necessary for the season well in advance.will make a world of difference at the national level."
In the meantime, Douglas-Greaves informed that a number of activities have been organized to mark the month, including a press conference at the ODPEM headquarters on Camp Road tomorrow (June 1) at 2:00 p.m. and a national church service on Sunday (June 3) at the St. Mary's Church at 99 Molynes Road in Kingston, starting at 7:30 a.m.
"We will be invoking the presence of God for guidance and for knowledge to ensure that we do what is necessary to minimize losses and damage in the event of a hurricane," Mrs. Douglas-Greaves said of the church service.
Other activities will target several stakeholders, chief among them, the youth, through 'Disaster Preparedness Day in Schools' on June 6. ODPEM, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Youth will be working with schools islandwide to incorporate disaster preparedness activities in the curriculum for the day and in some cases the week. This will be reflected in dance, drama, poetry, treasure hunts and quizzes, among other things.
There will also be a culinary competition in selected schools giving young people an opportunity to create dishes that may be recommended in times of a national disaster. "We are talking about our dishes like rundown, banana, tin mackerel.they are going to be creatively putting these things together in an attractive way," Mrs. Douglas-Greaves explained.
Also on June 6, a cultural exchange concert will be held at Portmore Missionary Preparatory School on Edgewater Road at 10:00 a.m., where young people will participate in song and drama, while several expositions are being planned for various communities.
Businesses have an important role to play in disaster preparedness and they will be the focus from June 11 to 15. ODPEM plans to focus on entities that have not been previously trained in disaster preparedness. "We decided to focus on hotels, primarily the recently constructed hotels.we will be training and imparting skills to assist them to sure up their disaster planning," the Director pointed out.
It is also expected that a number of videos as well as public service announcements will be aired during the month.