|??Dr. Lorna Inniss, Deputy Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit. (Picture from clmeproject.org)|
It is imperative that Barbadians, particularly service club members educate themselves about coastal hazards and pass on that knowledge to children in their communities.
Deputy Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Lorna Inniss made this call as she addressed an interclub meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Barbados South at the Southern Palms Hotel in St. Lawrence Gap, Christ Church last night.
Dr. Inniss said most adults were cynical about coastal hazards and tended not to worry too much about them. "[But] if the children grow up with an awareness of these hazards, they will live with that awareness and they will make much better decisions than we have made in our time," she stressed.
She urged the Club members to recognise that their mandate related to children, and explained that there were a number of games and drills that could be used to educate them about coastal hazards.
"In the Indian Ocean event in 2007, they had a warning system in place and it worked. They got the warning in good time. The parents were home the children were in school. The schools had excellent programmes and they were doing drills so they knew exactly what to do. The teachers took the children to safety," Dr. Inniss said.
But, she said, parents died while driving along coastal roads trying to get to their children. "These are the kinds of reactions. They are psychological and all of us would do it," she noted.
"One of the first steps [to dealing with such hazards] is that we need to educate our children, and we need to trust them to do the right thing in the situation," the Deputy Director said.
But, while stressing the need to educate children on coastal hazards, Dr. Inniss made it clear that it was also important for adults to educate themselves first. "What you started tonight is the beginning, it is not an end. Educate yourself first. You need to understand enough so you can help your community," Dr. Inniss told Club members.
However, she told them last night’s information was "extremely basic and very preliminary", and stressed that they needed to do a lot more in order to help their communities.
She encouraged them to participate in national exercises, and indicate their willingness to take part in coastal exercises. "Follow real events elsewhere and use them to sensitise the community," she said.
Dr. Inniss also encouraged the Kiwanians to identify people or properties in their communities that may be vulnerable. "Are they too close to the coast? ??Are they too close to the water? ??Are they low lying? Are there older people who may not be able to run very far? or is there not somewhere you can do vertical evacuation?
"These are things you need to look for … Once you identify the vulnerable persons … ??then you can start working with them," Dr. Inniss advised.
She added that pre-event planning was key because it allowed for more lives to be saved.
The CZMU Deputy Director said plans were underway for a national simulation exercise early next year. "We are trying to do a national exercise where we will simulate a tsunami that will approach Barbados. We want to take it all the way to evacuation," she said.
Ms. Inniss explained that this would assist with educating persons about evacuation routes and safe zones.