June 1, 20111011Views

We celebrate our beautiful beaches and gorgeous year-round weather, but we must also be mindful of the risks that accompany it.

Everyone living in these islands is faced with the possibility of natural disasters and other emergencies, for which we must always be prepared.  As we approach the forthcoming hurricane season, it is time to remind ourselves of the need to take suitable precautions and have a plan of action for the worst case.  While we hope for the best at all times, it would be irresponsible not to be ready if an emergency does occur.  We cannot predict which storm might impact the Virgin Islands, but the experts are predicting a busy hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin with about 17 named storms, including five major ones.

Whatever your circumstances, every home and every business needs to have a plan to protect itself during an emergency, prepare a disaster kit and know where to go if evacuation is necessary.  Your plan should contain information to help you and your family, in both weather-related and other emergencies.  It is also important that you do not forget your pets. One reason many people stay behind when they should not is a fear of leaving their animals.

Additionally, safeguarding important documents such as your identification, Social Security card, insurance documents and policies, and emergency contact information is essential to easing any disruption that may occur during a disaster.

The British Virgin Islands is home to a significant number of senior citizens, and approximately one in four of them suffers from some physical impairment. Make sure to have a list and a generous supply of all of medications, and a plan for refilling prescriptions as needed.  It is critical that, as good neighbours, we assist those who are vulnerable and who might not be able to prepare for a disaster. In any emergency, we must come together as Virgin Islanders to ensure that no person is left without help.

In closing, let us all plan to make our communities more resilient to hazards and disasters, and let us remember that careful preparation can make a huge difference. So start planning today, and together we can weather any storm.

Boyd McCleary

1st June, 2011