Forest /Bush fires in Seychelles

Out of the many hazardous events that occurs in
Seychelles, forest or bush fires are very common. And it is very difficult to fight and very dangerous also.
Forest/ bush fires are uncontrollable fires that take place in isolated areas.

Causes of Forest/bush fires in Seychelles (source of fire):
• Causes of forest/bush fires in the Seychelles is mostly by human activities, this can be careless such as not putting out a fire completely after any burning activity (Domestic burning) , dropping a lit cigarette butt, uncontrolled burning especially on farm land near forest area, Nuisance such as kids playing with matches, harvesting of honey using smoke.
• Natural causes e.g. lightning has not been recorded

How does it spread?
There are many Factors that contribute to how a forest fire will spread and how intense the fire will be.
They include:

• Weather; the weather has a large impact on how the fire will spread, fires are much more likely to start and spread during drought (south east monsoon). When the grass and plant are dry, the strong winds will also help a fire to spread and move quickly. The temperature (how hot it is and (humidity) how dry the air is will also impact how well the fire will spread.
• Fuel; fire need fuel to burn, the type of fuel will impact how quickly the fire will spread as well as how intense it will be, in Seychelles our dense palm forest and mix vegetation cover create the perfects fuel to be consumed by fires.
• Topography, the topography is the shape and features of the land where the fires is burning , fires tend to move faster uphill’s, fire spread quickly up steep slope on side of mountain and hill, this condition suite Seychelles context well.

Effects of Forest/bush fire
• Loss of valuable timber resources
• Loss of biodiversity and extinction of plants and animals
• Degradation of catchment area
• Loss of natural regeneration and reduction of forest cover • Loss of carbon risk resources and increase in percentage of CO2
• Change in micro climate of the area with unhealthy living condition
• Soil erosion affecting productivity of soils and production of ozone layer depletion
• Health problem leading to disease
• Loss of lively hood for rural people

How do firefighters put them out?

Forest/bush fire can be extremely difficult to put out or control, forest fire can be easily change direction, and can jump over natural boundary such as cliff, roads and rivers, in Seychelles we lack trained fire fighters.
However the main technique employ by fire man and forestry personnel are:

• Indirect attack; one best way to stop a fire is to get rid of the fuel (trees, grasses. Leaves twigs ) e.c.t that is helping it to burn, firefighters will remove fuel in a line ahead of where the fire is advancing, this line is called a fire break can be of different width from 3 meter and above, when the fire reaches the firebreak its run out of fuel and stop spreading.

• Direct attack; spraying water, smothering or physically separating burn from not burn fuel, beating up ambers and or covering hot ambers with soil, in any circumstances both method are apply systematically.

Forest/bush fires contribute to climate change and climate change in return has an effect on the risk of forest fires. As it affects the frequency of a fire starting and the total area that can be burnt will also increase due to that, we may have longer fire season, drier conditions which will create more fuel for forest fire, and their also an increased frequency of lighting especially for farmers.
Public education is probably the most important activity in forest fire prevention, people of all ages must be educated on how fires are started, the destruction they cause, its economic impact, and the important of reporting fire no matter how small.
Remember it always depend on you to prevent a forest fire from starting!

 

Mr. Cliff Alissop

Senior Disaster management officer

Emergency Kit – Be Prepared for an Emergency

A survival kit is a package of basic tools and supplies prepared in advance as an aid to survival in an emergency. Civil and military aircraft, lifeboats, and spacecraft are equipped with survival kits.


Survival kits, in a variety of sizes, contain supplies and tools to provide a survivor with basic shelter against the elements, help him or her to keep warm, meet basic health and first aid needs, provide food and water, signal to rescuers, and assist in finding the way back to help. Supplies in a survival kit normally contain a knife (often a Swiss army knife or a), matches,tinder,first aid kit, bandana, fish hooks, sewing kit, and a flashlight.
Civilians such as forestry workers, surveyors, or bush pilots, who work in remote locations or in regions with extreme climate conditions may also be equipped with survival kits. Disaster supplies are also kept on hand by those who live in areas prone to earthquakes or other natural disasters. For the average citizen to practice disaster preparedness, some towns will have survival stores to keep survival supplies in stock.
Emergency Services recommends an emergency preparedness kit that is easy to carry and use in the event of an emergency or disaster.

First 72 Hours in a disaster – Home Preparations

Recommendations

Taking the aforementioned into consideration, the Department of Risk and Disaster Management (DRDM) would like to advise the general public to do the following :

Know the Risks

We face a number of natural or man-made hazards, which can vary from region. Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared.
During an emergency
The following steps should be taken in emergency situations:
• Make sure you are safe before assisting others.
• Follow your emergency plan.
• Get your emergency kit.
• Monitor radio, television and online for information from authorities. Follow their instructions.
• Stay put until it is safe or you are ordered to evacuate.
• Limit phone calls to urgent messages only. Keep the lines free for emergency responders.

Make a plan

Every household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your family know what to do in an emergency. Make a plan part of your emergency kit.

The following are things to consider when making your plan:
• Have a family emergency plan.
• Map your evacuation routes.
• Have a contingency plan.
• Know your emergency contact numbers.
• Know your emergency shelter locations.

Prepare a Disaster Kit beforehand. This should include the following:

Food: Maintain enough nonperishable food for each person for at least 72 hours.
Water: Store enough so each person has a gallon a day for 72 hours, preferably for one week. Store in airtight containers and replace it every six months. Store disinfectants such as iodine tablets or chlorine bleach, eight drops per gallon, to purify water if necessary.
First aid kit: Make sure it is well stocked, especially with bandages and disinfectants.
Fire extinguisher: Your fire extinguisher should be suitable for all types of fires. Teach all family members how to use it.
Flashlights with extra batteries: Keep flashlights beside your bed and in several other locations. Do not use matches or candles until you are certain there are no gas leaks.
Radios: Store radio with battery backup, portable radio or portable television with extra batteries: Telephones may be out of order or limited to emergency use. A radio, portable radio or portable television may be your best source of information.
Miscellaneous items: Extra blankets, clothing, shoes and money. Wear sturdy shoes just in case you need to walk through rubble and debris.
Alternative cooking sources: Store a barbecue or camping stove for outdoor camping.
Caution: Ensure there are no gas leaks before you use any kind of fire as a cooking source and never use charcoal indoors. Gasoline-powered appliances should be filled away from ignition sources.
Special items: Have at least 72 hours of medications and food for infants and those with special needs. Don’t forget diapers.
Tools: Have an adjustable or pipe wrench for turning off gas and water, and a shovel or broom for cleaning up.
Pets: Assemble an animal emergency supply kit and develop a pet care buddy system with friends or relatives to make sure someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be sure each of your pets has a tag with your name and phone number. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to plan for your pets.
• Pay attention to directions from emergency managers, police and others and obey instructions in the event of an evacuation.
Source : FEMA (2007)

Bibliography

Dourandish, R., Zumel, N., & Manno, M. (2007). Command and Control During the First 72 Hours of a Joint. Command and Control Research & Technology Symposium. Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2007, March 30). Disaster Planning Is Up To You. Retrieved 07 03, 2015, from FEMA:https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2007/03/30/disaster-planning-you
Ministry of National Security. (2013). National Response Framework. Retrieved 07 03, 2015, from Office of Disaster Prepardness and Management: http://www.odpm.gov.tt/node/59

10 Tips to Prepare for the Rainy Season

Preparation now can prevent — or at least lessen problems — ahead of possible stormy days. Here are some things to check on the home front:

  1. Clean and repair home gutters: Clogged ones can cause rainwater to back up and damage your roof and house.
  2. Inspect the roof: Look for loose or damaged shingles.
  3. Look inside at ceilings and walls: Any water damage could be an indication of roof leaks.
  4. Trim trees and bushes next to the house: Eliminate branches that can be weighed down with water or strike houses.
  5. Make sure doors and windows are secure: Install weather stripping where necessary.
  6. Monitor spots where the ground meets your house: Look for water collecting. Dig a trench and redirect the water if needed.
  7. Stockpile the sand bags: If you live in flood-prone areas, buy or collect sand bags to help divert water, debris or mud. Have them filled and ready to go before flooding happens.
  8. Look for erosion: Check sloping property hillsides for signs of erosion or slipping, and shore them up if necessary.
  9. Check street drains near your home: If they are clogged, call necessary agencies.
  10. Prepare a supply kit of clothes, food, medication and water – Home Emergency Kit if needed.

Fight Against Dengue

 

According to the Ministry of Health, 253 people have tested positive for dengue since January – 21 May 2016. There has been an exponential increase in the number of confirmed cases from week 16 onwards with the peak (66) in week 19. In total 175 males and 96 females tested positive for dengue (253 cases). The age range 2 – 79 years old, with 85% of the cases being less than 40 years

Source: Disease Surveillance and Response Unit (DSRU), Epidemiology and Statistics Section 2016.

The above trend is a gross underestimation of the real situation on the ground which is much worse since, people who have suffers the milder form of the disease are not seeking medical attention. They are r infectious and therefore continue to fuel this epidemic. Two (2) subtypes (DENV1 and DENV 2) are currently circulating in Seychelles. The number of cases are still rising rapidly and has so far shown no sign of declining. For the month of May, 75 cases have been reported. Several measures have been put in place to combat this outbreak. Every region on Mahé is being affected, and more cases have been reported in the 4 districts of English River, Anse Royale Anse Etoile and Beau Vallon, with1 case in Praslin Island. Considering the fact that the majority of the population lives in the island of Mahé, vector elimination, prevention and sensitization efforts will be focused there.

How to fight against Dengue?

Ebola Stimulus Exercise

TESTING SEYCHELLES’ EBOLA PLAN

A table top exercise for a possible ebola outbreak was conducted on the 20th November to test the status of the ebola preparedness plan of the Ministry of Health and their capacity to manage a response in the event of an outbreak in Seychelles.
The one day session at Kempinski Hotel, Baie Lazare organized by the Department of Risk and Disaster Management (DRM), brought together representatives from the World Health Organisation, tourism-related agencies, the Red Cross, the community and local media.
Participants were presented with different scenarios illustrating possible detected cases and discussed how the different sections of the Ministry of Health will co-ordinate and implement emergency response activities to manage possible cases in the event that patients are diagnosed with the virus in line with its ebola preparedness response plan.
Local authorities got acquainted to the plan which provides the core capacity to prevent, detect, characterize and respond quickly, efficiently and in a coordinated manner to the threats in order to reduce mortality and morbidity.
The Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Jude Gedeon briefed attendees on the local preparedness plan. He mentioned all logistics and plans are already in place. These include a special committee that meets regularly once or twice a week; a communication plan being developed; six-month indicated budget; a standard operating procedure being developed, continuous and on-going training; stocking of materials, among other measures being taken.
The Communication and Information Officer at DRDM, Miss Regina Prosper said emergency medical services personnel, along with other agencies, have a vital role to play regarding prevention and preparation measures in the event of any exposure to ebola and disseminating information to the general public on how to take appropriate actions.
“The importance of such exercise is to test plans, standard Operating Procedures, equipment, train personnel and help to improve response for any real event. It was an opportunity to also discuss how the ministry will co-ordinate with other agencies to share and disseminate information as well as protection of employees providing treatment and care to patients” she added.
Participants described the exercise as enlightening.
The Table Top Exercise which helped to identify a few gaps that must be worked on will be followed by a Functional Exercise and later a Full Scale Exercise.