Prepare for cyclones

THE cyclone season is here! Are you prepared?

You will of course hear this question on the radio or even on television at the beginning of November annually.

It is because November to April is Fiji’s cyclone season and warnings and advice would continue throughout this period to ensure the public has taken heed of the advice before something happens.

We are now into mid-November and we have already experienced heavy rain and flooding in some parts of the country over the past few days.

It is important, therefore, that you and your family are prepared as unforeseen circumstances do happen in times like these.

Last month, the Ministry of Disaster Management predicted that four to six cyclones would possibly pass through Fiji from now until April next year.

The Ministry of Disaster Management permanent secretary Meleti Bainimarama said four to six cyclones were predicted to hit the Pacific region, of which two would possibly pass through Fiji.

“For Fiji, one to two tropical cyclones are predicted to pass through Fiji waters this season with one anticipated to reach Category 3 or above,” he said.

“Therefore it is critical that communities across Fiji act responsibly and pay close attention to all weather forecast, warning and advisories issued by the Fiji Meteorological Service, National Disaster Management Office and the Government of Fiji.”

Past experiences have proven that some people did not adhere to weather warnings, hence, ending up in deaths and even the loss of properties.

By the end of October, the advice and warnings had already been issued by relevant stakeholders.

It is because they want people to be aware, to be alert and to always be ready when a natural disaster happens.

Weather warnings are given out for a reason and as a concerned citizen, you should always make sure that you listen and take heed, be a responsible adult and let your family be aware as well.

According to the Fiji Meteorological Service website, there will be average or above average rainfall over most parts of Fiji through the November 2017 to January 2018 period.

It also predicts that rainfall activity is likely to increase in the Fiji region over the coming three months.

By now, people should already be aware of what to do and they should have stocks already in their own homes.

Food supplies should be ready, batteries and candles should also be stocked ready while properties should be secured.

When travelling, it is entirely important that you adhere to daily weather warnings and advice and when you feel it is not safe to do so, do not take the risk.

Below are some flood safety tips from savethechildren.org which may assist you and your family during this rainy season.

Prepare

* Talk about floods. Spend time with your family discussing why floods occur. Explain that flooding is a natural event and not anyone’s fault. Use simple words that even young children can understand.

* Consider flood insurance. Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.

* Stay informed. Listen to a local radio station on a portable battery, powered radio or television. Listen for and respond to flood watches and warnings. Evacuate if told to do so or if you feel unsafe.

During floods:

* Follow guidance of local authorities such as elected officials and first responders are most informed about affected areas and most knowledgeable which flooded areas to avoid.

* Move to higher ground. During a flood you should move to higher ground and avoid standing, flowing, or rising water.

* Keep children away from dirty water. Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater as it’s likely to be dirty, carry bacteria, and vulnerable to electric shock.

* Keep children clean. Wash children’s hands frequently (always before meals) and ensure they bathe after being exposed to flood waters or flood damaged areas.

After floods:

* Ensure utilities are restored before children return to flood affected areas, ensure utilities such as electricity and plumbing are restored and living and learning spaces (e.g. homes, schools,child care facilities) are free from physical and environmental hazards.

* Limit children’s participation in recovery. Children and teenagers should not be involved in clean up efforts but should return after the area is cleaned up before children return. These areas should be cleaned and disinfected, along with all toys, clothing, etc.

* Clean or discard contaminated toys. Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water and have not been disinfected.

* Materials that cannot be readily disinfected such as stuffed animals or pillows should be discarded.

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