The month of June signals the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season. However, when it comes to being prepared, one can never be too thorough or too early. Therefore, it would be wise for people to start taking stock of their vulnerabilities and any apparent risks from now and make the appropriate adjustments.
Earlier this week, widespread showers may have caught many off guard, but they should have also served as a warning. Homeowners should examine their properties for weaknesses to water and moisture, sealing wherever necessary, and gutters should be mended, cleared and fastened securely to homes to divert any heavy downpours.
Not only homes, but vehicles should be checked for safety as well. Take care that the treads on tyres are not worn down, the wipers are functional, and that the brake system is in good working condition. All these steps can mean the difference between a safe journey home and a major accident on slick roads.
With the economy the way that it is, with numerous people going on the breadline and cost of living hitting Barbadians hard, it would be wise for people to accumulate
over a period of time the food stuff that would be required for a hurricane checklist, instead of looking for a lump sum to purchase necessities at the last minute. So, for the remainder of April and the entire month of May, people can deliberately put aside a couple of items each week. This way may even prove more economical as there would be more time to shop for bargains.
Another area where many persons fall down, and which can, and should, be addressed prior to the start of June is the matter of insuring property. Home and business structures should be insured to cover any possible damage which can result from weather systems, either directly or indirectly – including damage caused by flooding and fire. While Barbadians have been spared the ravages of a serious hurricane in recent years, lessons can be learned from the many house fires which leave uninsured homeowners reeling from loss with little prospect of rebuilding.
Personal possessions, too, should be protected. Private safes or safety deposit boxes at commercial banks can keep important documents like deeds, wills, or even jewellery in good condition and damage-free; for after a storm or a hurricane, it is easier to pick up the pieces and move on if you do not have to worry about recovering
the cost of lost possessions or damaged property.
In the end it all comes down to being as prepared as possible and in this the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has provided a good example. Barbadians and our Caribbean neighbours should take a leaf out of that organisation’s book and take hurricane preparedness more seriously. Traditionally, it has been routine to see hundreds of people lined up within hours of an approaching system to buy food, sheets of wood, or other emergency material. This type of behaviour must be improved upon. As Caribbean people, our actions should reflect more than a fleeting rush to ride out a storm; for us in the region, it should be a way of