In the age of global warming, building resilience and defence against climate change and natural disasters have to be at the core of Caribbean social and economic development.
Lifestyle change means quitting the material merry-go-round. Given the importance of frugality, thrift and simplicity, living in survival mode is no longer paranoia, but simple common sense.
Too much stuff, clutter and unnecessary household items in a home are bait for hurricanes.
Then keep an affordable level of cash about. After disaster, cash means greater flexibility. Cash can be a cushion in the eventuality that disaster puts the islander out of a job for months, or in the event a resident possesses inadequate insurance to fix and replace what a hurricane devours and destroys.
Insurance premiums skyrocketed after hurricanes Irma and Maria, and paying the equivalent of a monthly mortgage for home insurance is understandably a huge burden for hundreds of homeowners.
A lack of preparation in terms of holding adequate water supply and stocking up with non-perishable food items — or lighting for dark nights — will make a natural disaster worse when it strikes. Life is a misery after a hurricane disaster, and the unprepared have it worst.
Living ‘with less’
Residents must learn to live with less, and ensure that only the vitals are harboured within the four walls of the home.
Before hurricane season, keep extra water in jerry cans; place important documents in plastic zip-lock bags in safe zones within the home; fortify the home if possible with appropriate shuttering; use clamps to strengthen vulnerable roofing.
Strengthen and secure external doors with bolts and bars: If a home is breached, doors that hold firm may prevent complete destruction, loss of property and even loss of life. Internal doors, too, should be robust and possess strong internal bolts as these doors could also become a strong barrier, creating a pocket of protection behind which families can hide from danger if windows and outer doors are breached by hurricane-force winds.
Finally, identify a place of escape within the home in the event of catastrophe, and identify a route of escape to the nearest hurricane shelter in the event the worst happens.
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