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Disaster readiness more crucial than ever

Story from: baydu.co.za

STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY; AND SOCIAL SERVICES, ALDERMAN JP SMITH

In recent days, we have witnessed extreme weather episodes in parts of the country that have left a trail of devastation. Elsewhere, hurricanes, earthquakes, runaway wildfires and volcanic eruptions have made headlines in the last few weeks.

The drought in large parts of South Africa, the Western Cape and Cape Town is well documented. Indications are that these extreme weather events are likely to become more commonplace as a result of climate change.

Against this backdrop, the message and efforts aligned to International Disaster Risk Reduction Day today become even more important. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction uses the day on 13 October to highlight initiatives that promote disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. The theme this year is ‘Home Safe Home’ and focuses on the contribution that communities can make in safeguarding themselves, their homes, and their livelihoods in the event of natural disasters.

The City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management Centre conducts ongoing education and awareness drives regarding potential disasters as part of its mandate. In the last financial year, this included:

  • door-to-door campaigns in informal settlements for the Fire-Wise and Flood-Wise programmes that reached approximately 30 000 residents
  • climate change engagements at numerous schools to teach learners about the effects of climate change like drought, extreme storms, and desertification, along with adaptive/mitigation measures that can be put in place
  • community-based risk assessment workshops with various communities to help them identify and map potential hazards and community action plans in response to those hazards

However, disaster risk management is everyone’s business and so it begs the question: what are families doing to improve their personal preparedness in the event of disaster?

The City has developed family preparedness guidelines as well as guidelines for people living with a disability. These guidelines include information which, on the face of it appears obvious, but is more than likely not a priority for many people.

We encourage families to set aside some time and ensure that they have the following in place:

  • A family emergency plan that accounts for different scenarios and includes details like contact information, collation of important documentation, alternative places to stay, and appropriate care/arrangements for family pets
  • A disaster supply kit that covers the basics like fresh water, non-perishable food items, and keeping warm
  • Awareness and preparation and ensuring that every member of the family knows what to do in an emergency/disaster situation

The complete documents outlining the guidelines are contained in the links below:

These are important conversations to have in the family circle. As potentially depressing a thought it might be, it trumps the alternative of being caught off guard in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

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