The emergency shelters booklet 2012 is now available!

The booklet, Shelters, produced by the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development may be obtained from the Ministry’s headquarters at the Elsie Payne Complex, Constitution Road, St. Michael; the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Warrens, St. Michael; and District Emergency Organisations across the country.

It may also be downloaded from the Barbados Government Information Service’s website www.gisbarbados.gov.bb.

Shelters is being touted as a document to be used as “a constant companion in case a disaster strikes on some unexpected occasion”. In addition to listing the shelters, it contains the names, addresses and telephone numbers of key personnel and agencies as well as those of shelter staff.

Shelter facilities are mainly schools and churches, located across the island and are listed in two categories. Category One Shelters are those facilities which may be used during a hurricane or other hazard event, while Category 2 Shelters are those which may be used if they are still in a reasonable condition after the occurrence of a hazard event or disaster.

In the foreword of the text, Chief Shelter Warden, Laurie King, has urged persons to seek refuge in shelters at their own risk, as no guarantee can be given that any building will remain standing or be habitable after a devastating hurricane, other hazard or disaster.

“For this reason, it is advisable for persons to remain in their own houses or seek refuge in the homes of friends or relatives or in neighbouring buildings considered to be structurally sound. If you plan to remain at home, a strong room, preferably (located downstairs) in the middle of the house should be chosen,” Mr. King said.

However, he advised that if individuals have to leave their homes, they should take with them emergency kits and non-perishable food items to last for at least three days.

Most primary and secondary schools are on the list, which shows how many persons can be accommodated; the availability of a water tank and the specific shelter wardens; along with their names, addresses and telephone numbers.

The emergency shelters also take into consideration the needs of persons with disabilities; six of them have bathrooms with wheelchair access. These are the Coleridge and Parry School; St. Christopher Primary; Lester Vaughan Secondary School; George Lamming Primary; St. Ambrose Primary and Blackman & Gollop Primary.

Mr. King, who is also Chief Education Officer, has, however, issued a caution on the use of the schools, in light of the fact that during the early months of the hurricane season they are closed, and some are usually slated for repairs.

He stated: “While every effort is being made to have this Ministry’s annual civil works done during the schools’ summer vacation, it is expected that some schools will be unavailable as shelters.”

Individuals interested in finding out the nearest shelter in their community should collect a copy of the shelter booklet, while paying close attention to information on the internet, radio and television, and in the print media throughout the hurricane season.

With the Barbados Meteorological Service warning against complacency and that “it only takes one land form event near the island to result in a disaster”, it would be prudent for individuals and owners of businesses to ensure that their homes and buildings are structurally sound. (JG/BGIS)

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