Keeping your family and home safe during unrest

Marti Weddepohl, of Mercy Networks, briefs residents on how to prepare for civil unrest.

How can you prepare for a civil-unrest emergency? Marti Weddepohl, of Mercy Networks, an NGO specialising in the provision of disaster distress relief, has some advice.

Petrol bombing at home:

* Know where your home’s exits are and what they open on to.

* Wrap a wet towel around your head to protect you from heat and smoke.

* Keep a fire extinguisher handy and use it if the fire is small enough.

* If the fire is already out of control, grab your “go bag” and get out. You can also keep the “go bag” in your car.

* Plan alternative escape routes and hiding spots, in the event that the house comes under attack and your normal escape route is cut off.

* Discuss possible scenarios with your family and make sure everyone knows the plan.

On the road

* Stay calm and try to get away as quickly as possible.

* Don’t drive into or over people as this will be seen as provocation.

* Have an emergency bag in the car with water, extra medication, a first-aid kit, basic food and blankets or a warm jacket.

In the mall

* Familiarise yourself with the mall and its exits.

* Have a plan in the event that you become separated if something happens.

* Discuss possible hiding places. Avoid those where you can be cornered such as toilets.

* Avoid escalators in a panic and stay clear of plate-glass windows.

Can you answer these questions if there’s civil unrest while your child is at school?

* Will your child know to tell you if there is a problem?

* Where can your child go until you reach them?

* Do you have somebody you trust to call, who could reach your child before you?

* Do you know where the school’s evacuation point is, and how they will get there?

Go-bag

This is a pre-packed bag with emergency essentials.

Marti carries one the size of a small wallet everywhere she goes. It can sustain her for about 72 hours and contains:

* a lighter, duct tape, instant glue for superficial wounds, a small plastic bag to store water, a knife and a torch.

Your home-evacuation go-bag can hold raincoats, a warm jacket/blanket, water, food, toiletries, wet wipes, changes of clothes, pyjamas, comfortable shoes, a tin opener, cups, a torch, batteries, cellphone chargers and plugs, acute/ chronic medication and medication for headaches, upset stomachs or nausea. Don’t forget your external hard drives.

For more information or to have Marti speak to your community, contact her at 072 345 3939 or mercynet1@gmail.com for a copy of a civic-unrest brochure email aimee.kuhl@capetown.gov.za