EDITORIAL: Barbadians, be prepared
One can hardly believe that in just about two weeks, the Atlantic Hurricane Season will be upon us again. It was just six months ago that we breathed a sigh of relief as the season came to an end and our island paradise was again spared, and it certainly hoped that in 2017 we will not experience any challenges.
There are already predications out for the season which runs from June 1 to November 30, and the basic consensus is that it will be slightly below average with around 11 named storms. Surely there is some concern about those predictions however, with the first named storm of 2017, forming in April. Though it remained far from land, Tropical Storm Arlene became the second April tropical storm on record since satellites started to be used. Last year the first named storm came mid-January, and the second storm made landfall in the United States in May. That was not the first time that a storm came early either, before then it was May 2012, when not one, but two named tropical storms were formed, and back in 2003, a tropical storm formed in late April.
Certainly the pattern that we are accustomed to with respect to the hurricane season is changing and it is imperative that while we continue to count our blessings, that we also recognise the importance of being prepared, and prepared long before June 1. Again, preparedness is key, because the fact is that Mother Nature is quite unpredictable and while Barbados has not suffered any major damage from tropical storms or hurricanes in many years, this island is certainly not out of harm’s way.
Some say we are strategically placed in the island chain being the most easterly of the Caribbean islands, thus making us the first point of contact for systems coming off the African Coast when they are not fully formed, but it does not mean we will always be spared. So we need to be prepared. We know this message is repeated year after year, and there is no doubt that some persons could very well be getting tired of hearing it; but we hope Barbadians and residents of this country heeds the call and ensure that they do what is necessary in the event that a major system makes landfall here.
So from now, we all need to start to conduct our checks around our homes – examining ours roofs to see if they are in good condition and if repairs are needed and we also need to clear the guttering. Protecting our homes is important and persons can either invest in readymade shutters for their windows or perhaps make them out of plywood. It is also important that every household puts together first aid kits and keep them handy in the event they are needed. Additionally, we should clean our drains and rid our properties of items that can potentially become missiles during high winds.
Yes, it is only May, but we can start now to stock up on water as well as canned and dried goods. Certainly, as we engage in our weekly or monthly supermarket shopping, we should add these items to our grocery lists rather than waiting until there is the possibility that a system is approaching, then to run to the supermarket to get them. There has been some improvement in this respect and we urge persons to keep it up this year.
Our appeal to all citizens and residents of Barbados, is to continue to be proactive this year and not reactive, and ensure that there is no unnecessary damage to property or injury to persons, because of complacency.