Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 31st 2015 Contents A37
Thursday, December 31, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Better be ready
Are you ready for a
Source: The T&T Red Cross Society
Contact the Red Cross: Headquarters - 627-8215/8128, Northern branch - 627-8214, Southern branch - 652-2024, Tobago branch - 639-2781
Natural disasters can strike anytime, anywhere.
There are simple steps you can take to help
protect your family from a natural disaster.
Call your Emergency Management Office and the
Red Cross for further details.
Find out which disasters could occur in your area
and how to prepare.
Ask how you would be warned of an emergency.
Learn your communities' evacuation routes.
Ask where your nearest emergency shelters are
Ask about any special assistance for the elderly or
Ask about the plans in place at work, schools or
day care centres as well.
Create an Emergency Plan:
Meet with household members. Discuss with chil-
dren the dangers of fire, severe weather, earth-
quakes and other emergencies.
Discuss how to respond to each disaster that
Draw a floor plan of your home. Mark two escape
routes from each room. Practise an emergency
evacuation drill at least two times a year.
Learn how to turn off your water, gas and electric-
ity at the main switches.
Discuss what to do about power outages and per-
Post emergency numbers near telephones:
ODPM (Trinidad) - 640-1285/8905/8653/
800-ODPM website: odpm.gov.tt
ODPM (Tobago) - 660-7489/7686
Police - 999
Fire Services - 990
Coast Guard - 634-4440/4532/4554
Defence Force - 634-4532
Ambulance Service (EHS) - 624-4343
EMA - 628-8042
T&TEC - 625-1296/1774
TSTT - 6611
National Gas - 800-4427
Nearest health facility
Teach children how and when to call 999, Police and
Fire Services and how to make long distance calls.
Instruct household members to turn to the radio
for emergency information.
Pick one out-of-the-area-relative and one local
friend or relative for family members to call or
meet at if separated by a disaster.
Take a basic First Aid course and CPR class.
Make a list of valuables. Keep family records in a
waterproof and fireproof container.
Prepare a disaster supply list:
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape
- Canned goods, non-perishable foods and a
non-electric can opener
- Drinking water
- Any special dietary food if required
- Identification, cash, valuable papers,
insurance policies and photos
- Battery-operated radio with extra batteries
- Personal hygiene items
- Disposable utensils
- Infant-care items
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Easy carrying container (bag) for all items.
Prepare a First Aid Kit:
- Prescription medications, betadine solu-
tion, gauze bandages, adhesive tape, sterile
pads, band aids, triangular bandages, safety
scissors, non-prescription medication, sun
screen, insect repellent, non-latex gloves,
absorbent compress 5x9 dressing, adhesive
bandages (assorted sizes), antiseptic wipes,
antibiotic ointment packets, etc.
Prepare an Emergency Car Kit:
Battery powered radio (with extra batteries),
flashlight (with extra batteries), sleeping
bags or blankets, first-aid kit and manual,
bottled water, non-perishable high energy
foods such as granola bars, raisins and
peanut butter, booster cables, a fire extin-
guisher, maps, shovel, tyre repair kit and
pump and flares.
T&T Red Cross Society
thought it curable---the wonders of modern science
you know? A year and several surgical operations later
we were disabused of that notion. Shortly after I
returned to England in 2014 she was given the prognosis
and we made the collective decision that all of our
energies, time and money would be spent thenceforth
on happy times, special things and memorable occa-
I have never written about this before and don t
know why I am now. But while we are on the subject,
I should tell you that she contracted cancer in her
professional capacity and through an act of love: two
things synonymous with my mother. While working
as a midwife, one of the thousands of women whose
babies she delivered unknowingly infected her with
the blood-borne disease hepatitis C.
The silent killer, hep, attacks the liver causing cirrhosis
and eventually cancer. While we sat sipping the sweet,
flat Asti Spumante, my phone rang. It was my sister
calling with bad news. Our grandmother (who has
Alzheimer s) had been found by the police at 2am on
New Year s Eve wandering the shopping precinct in
the town where she lived. When the cops took her
home she didn t recognise it and told them it wasn t
her home. She grew agitated and it became clear they
would have to section her unless my sister, eight
months pregnant, took control of the situation.
I will never forget seeing my mother s face drop as
I passed the phone to her.
The holiday thereafter was punctuated by my mum s
instinctive urges to go home and deal with her mother
though we still managed some special moments---
spotting dolphins from the beach at Macqueripe and
looking down from Paramin over the lush wind-swept
My grandmother is now in the best care home we
could wish for, in London, close to the family. My
mother continues to make the four-hour round-trip
up from her house in Sussex to visit her each week.
Before Christmas, my mum worked tirelessly arrang-
ing a carol-singing concert to raise funds for the care
home. She worked so hard she was hospitalised. She
discharged herself---still barely able to walk unaided---
so she could attend the concert which she sang at
with the old folk and our local MP.
This year I have contemplated death for the first
time in my life. The same is true of people all over
the world who have lived and died through this most
I found myself obsessing over the Holocaust and
reading about murders, particularly the Moors Murders.
I revisited an old interview I did with the songwriter
Luke Haines, where I asked him to explain the lyrics:
"Talking to a stone, wailing at a grave, maybe when
a year s passed go and see a medium" in his song
What Happens When We Die?
I donated to a family who couldn t afford their
mother s funeral and was chilled by the news that on
Christmas Eve one of the Paris attackers was buried
in an unmarked grave in a funeral attended only by
his parents. I realise I have been attempting to immunise
myself against death: its meaning and its sadness.
In September, British politicians voted 330 to 118
against the Assisted Dying Bill which would have given
terminally ill people the right to end their lives. Even
though 82 per cent of the UK public support assisted
dying, Parliament prevented it from being made law,
and did so as passionately as they voted for bombing
people in Syria.
I don t know when or how I will die and I don t
fear my own death, but I do fear the death of others
and I fear pain. Many of us, politicians included, will
never experience pain and fear until we are close to
the end. By the time my end comes, I hope the ability
to control one s own mortality is an enshrined human
The year 2015 began for me on the
porch of a cottage by the sea in Buccoo
with a bottle of liquid that could barely
be described as "bubbly."
Tobago has never been a destination
for wine connoisseurs, yet even I was
surprised at how difficult it was to get
our hands on some half-decent fizz.
Instead of a pop, the cork gave a timid
report as it was released into the cica-
da-drenched night. We laughed, feeling
relaxed and amused that a week after
Christmas---with fresh memories of
crisp, frost-covered England---we were
about to countdown the year s end far
away from crowds of revellers. The night
soon took an unexpected turn.
We were in Tobago because my moth-
er has liver cancer. We had found out
three months before Christmas that it
was terminal and I had expressed my
wish to take her to T&T while she was
still able---to see the islands I fell in love
with and to meet the family of the
woman I fell in love with.
The cancer had been discovered a
year earlier, in 2013, just after I first
arrived in Trinidad. At the time we
The year of living
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