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Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’

Disaster in Japan: How You Can Help

Monday, March 21st, 2011
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There are lots of ways for you to help the people affected by the recent disaster in Japan.

The earthquake and ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan brought unimaginable destruction to all facets of the country. Calamities of this magnitude also show people’s ability to give and the global concern for those in trouble. For our part, we would like to provide information about how to make donations to help. We would like to encourage you to contribute to the Japanese relief efforts and also share some thoughts about the ways that technology and social media are changing communication and fundraising efforts following natural and manmade disasters.

While the donations have been pouring in, they still fall well below similar donation levels given for Haiti and Hurricane Katrina. A week after the devastating quake, donations reached $87 million for efforts in Japan, compared to $275 million in Haiti and $522 million for Hurricane Katrina. With millions of Japanese citizens are without power or ready-access to food, more donations are needed to provide just basic necessities.

Organizations such as Charity Navigator or GuideStar provide information about how individuals can give to the charity organizations that use donations most efficiently. These websites also detail those organizations that pool together donations to be used for disasters when needed. This is helpful since, in some past disasters, nonprofit groups end up with an overflow of funds that they are required to spend on specific relief efforts even if those monies might be better used elsewhere.

Easy ways to donate to reputable charitable organizations using the latest technology:

Be careful of scams! Unfortunately, some unscrupulous people try to exploit other’s suffering. So be very wary of replying to any incoming text messages that request credit card information or other financial information.

Technology in Action

In addition to enabling faster and easier donations, social media proved useful for rescue efforts and to quickly spread vital information.

  • While mobile phone lines were overloaded during and after the quake, sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Skype chat worked well and provided vital communication links.
  • A schoolteacher in England reported chatting with her young cousin in Japan after the quake via Facebook chat. The child couldn’t reach their parents a few miles away, but was able to communicate quickly with a relative on the other side of the world.
  • In the hours immediately following the tsunami and subsequent earthquakes, 50,000 people in Japan downloaded a Smartphone flashlight application, which they purportedly used to navigate through rubble.

Technology is opening new avenues for finding lost loved ones and learning more about the latest problems.

  • Google launched a Google Person Finder tool to locate people who are searching for loved ones. After the Red Cross’ Family Links site was overloaded, Google stepped in to help. Searchable in both English and Japanese, the site provides information for specific people including photographs and updates on their well being.
  • Twitter Hashtags (#) including #prayforjapan, #tsunami, #japan, and #textREDCROSS are providing a steady stream of information for victims and loved ones in real time.

As helpful as technology and mobile communication have become, it’s important to remember that these tools can be positive influences to help us quickly connect with people during a disaster as well as a potential tool for criminals to exploit. So be wary of posting too much information about your personal and professional activities online, or you risk alerting thieves when your home is vacant. This is just one example of how proper planning and careful attention to detail is crucial for safely managing situations when disasters strike.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

 

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Rebuilding Haiti’s Emergency Management Systems

Monday, February 1st, 2010
Important lessons can be learned from the disaster in Haiti

Important lessons can be learned from the disaster in Haiti

The recent earthquake disaster in Haiti will require extensive rebuilding of the country’s emergency response systems and infrastructure. Unfortunately, as a poor nation, many Haitians did not have the proper resources to ensure emergency preparedness. The only positive result of the disaster is that it will give the country the opportunity to focus on ways to ensure quicker, more comprehensive response time for future disasters.

But the application doesn’t stop in Haiti. Some of the hard-learned lessons can be applied to emergency planning for your buildings. These include the importance of following code standards, maintaining the infrastructure of the building, and making sure that communications procedures are established and followed. Disasters can and will happen, and proper preparation can minimize losses and quicken the pace of rebuilding.

Several aspects of emergency management will need to be rebuilt in Haiti:

Earthquake Codes:

  • Focus will be on implementing new building codes
  • Some studies focus on minimizing population densities and overcrowding
  • Authorities and aid organizations will need to provide assistance to lower income families that cannot afford to meet code regulations to prevent the building of unregulated and unsafe structures
  • Scientists say that future earthquakes are likely and Haiti should be prepared
  • New codes are especially important for multi-story buildings such as offices or hotels
  • Many homes in Haiti were built in stages which led to inconsistent foundation standards

Emergency Planning:

  • Seismologists warned of the threat of a potential earthquake, but most warnings went unheeded
  • Proper planning includes distribution of emergency kits to residents, designated relief zones, and equipment for the clearing of debris from roads

Infrastructure Needs:

  • Prior to the disaster, Haiti’s airport, ports and road systems were in need of repair
  • Strengthening infrastructure allows for faster emergency response
  • Bringing water and sanitation up to modern standards will aid the distribution of emergency supplies and information

Communications:

  • Secure communications are a key to coordinating relief in time of a disaster
  • Telephone and Internet systems need to be improved
  • Communication systems allow individuals to quickly get needed information in terms of where food or medical relief can be located, or where to find temporary shelters

We encourage all of our readers to donate for Haiti Relief by visiting the American Red Cross. Visit www.RJWestmore.com for information about our emergency training program. BE SAFE.