City to educate residents in disaster prevention

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, August 4, 2011
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The municipal civil affairs department has been working to establish a grassroots emergency response mechanism, including training ordinary residents to do disaster prevention and relief work in communities.

A heavy rainstorm hit Beijing and neighboring Hebei Province on Friday morning. []

A heavy rainstorm hit Beijing and neighboring Hebei Province on Friday morning. [] 

In an emergency response guide released online on Tuesday, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs said it was imperative to establish voluntary teams in communities that will be able to provide aid so that losses caused by major accidents and natural disasters can be reduced.

"Almost every community in Beijing now is equipped with a group of amateur firefighters selected from local residents," said Wang Yange, director of the public security section at the subdistrict office of You'anmen.

The voluntary firefighters will help inspect and remove fire hazards in their residential communities and educate their neighbors about how to escape when a fire occurs, Wang told China Daily on Wednesday.

"In a fire, every second counts. Therefore, before the professional firefighters arrive, our voluntary firemen can help to put out small fires or at least stop one from spreading," Wang stressed.

Shi Aijun, director of the residential committee at Yulinxili community in Fengtai district, said she will be "the director of 250 stoves" from November to next April.

In those six months, 250 households in Shi's community will use stoves for heating. Shi and her 15 colleagues from the committee will need to pay door-to-door visits to these households almost every day to check the fire safety situation and whether any residents have forgotten to open windows to allow carbon monoxide to disperse.

After the catastrophic earthquake in Sichuan's Wenchuan county in 2008, residential communities in Beijing have tried to have at least one broadcaster who can warn their residents of any devastating weather on the way, Wang said.

The weather broadcasters are also required to inform relevant government departments about the damage and aid requirements in their communities after disasters such as floods and torrential rain, he added.

The emergency response guide also stipulates for Beijing specific disaster supplies that should be kept in storage and be readily available, including a minimum of 1,500 tents and 10,000 sleeping bags.

Shi Peijun, deputy director of the National Committee of Disaster Relief, said he believes that Beijing cannot improve its emergency management unless every subdistrict designs its own disaster prevention and relief plan according to its specific geographic and demographic conditions.

"The impact of torrential rain on the crowded Beijing West Railway Station is completely different from that on a suburban football field, which means the two places should have different capacities to discharge floodwaters," Shi said.

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