April 2005

Disaster Feature

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British Prime Minister to push global warning system at the forthcoming G-8 summit
An early global warning system against natural disasters such as the tsunami has been mooted by the British government, and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is expected to push it at the forthcoming summit of the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialised countries to be held in Scotland under his chairmanship. Media reports say that the summit, to which India has also been invited along with China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, will be urged to commit itself to plan for an international 'alarm network' aimed at reducing the devastating impact of disasters such as tsunami, earthquakes and volcanoes.

Nagapattinam to install India's first warning system on weather conditions
An NGO at Nagapattinam, a district of the Indian State of Tamil Nadu is going to install the country's first warning system on weather conditions for fishermen of four coastal districts of Kovalam in Kancheepuram, Cudaloor, Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari. The knowledge centre will use data from ISRO, ICRISAT and Microsoft, besides many Canadian and US sources. The Tata Relief Committee, an NGO promoted and funded by the Tata group, in association with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, is setting up the Rural Knowledge Centre, the first of its kind in the country. They will use the public address system to disseminate information on weather conditions, fish catch availability, sea tide behaviour, etc.

DST ties up with Japanese government to develop an early tsunami warning system
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) in India proposes to have a long-term collaboration with the Japanese government to develop an early tsunami warning system which includes real-time monitoring of earthquakes and data handling and R&D. This is a separate initiative by the government apart from the recently proposed Rs 125 crore-Indian Ocean Early Warning System project. RK Chadha, scientist at NGRI said that DST, through the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad and Japan Society for Promotion of Science are planning a collaboration project to understand the problems and experiences of tsunami. They are trying to create a knowledge base with Japanese expertise, he added.

Guide to your disaster plan
Following the recent earthquakes and disastrous Tsunami in South Asia, it is evident that disasters can strike quickly and without warning. Sometimes even the local government authorities fail to issue warning at the right time. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.

Red Cross provides a four-step guide, which can help you and your family to cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team.

STEP 1
Find out what could happen to you

  • Ask what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request information on how to prepare for each.
  • Learn about your community's warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them.   
  • Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.
  • Next, find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children's school or daycare centre and other places where your family spends time.

STEP 2
Create a disaster plan

  • Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
  • Pick two places to meet:
    1. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
    2. Outside your neighbourhood in case you can't return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number. Ask an out-of-state friend to be your “family contact.”
  • Discuss what to do in an evacuation.

STEP 3
Complete this checklist

  • Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
  • Teach children how and when to call your local Emergency Medical Services number for emergency help.
  • Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches. Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
  • Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.
  • Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home and find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.

STEP 4
Practice and maintain your plan

  • Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do.
  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
  • Test and recharge your fire extin-guisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.

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