Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT
In adverse weather, emergency measures such as early warning, evacuation, rescue drills, emergency shelters and disaster relief funds will be rolled out to ensure public safety. However, some safety hazards will likely pose a threat.
At least four persons were killed during torrential rains in South China's Guangdong Province recently, allegedly because of faulty electrical equipment in the streets.
A mother and daughter from the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region died of electrical shock from faulty wiring on an illuminated billboard at a bus stop in the city of Foshan on June 8. A man from Zhaoqing was electrocuted while wading through an inundated street the same day.
Later, a 17-year-old student of a vocational school in Guangzhou was killed while crossing the road. A hospital document said the boy died of electric shock. A nearby electric power supply box had been flooded.
The deaths have sparked a heated discussion on social media platforms about the safety of electrical equipment in the streets. Some netizens asked for local authorities to be punished.
As China is undergoing rapid urbanization and cities become more complex, safety hazards are on the rise. Therefore, in dealing with natural disasters, rooting out safety hazards should be top priority. Otherwise, human errors are likely to worsen the adverse consequences of natural calamities.
This calls for making plans for disaster prevention and relief and treating prevention a major task. Authorities should scientifically study the laws of disasters, reduce risks and improve the early warning system. Emergency management and rescue capabilities should be reinforced. The country could leverage its relatively inexpensive human resources to develop a better emergency management system. Departments should clearly define their responsibilities and push for information sharing and coordination to ensure rescue efficiency.
In addition, the screening and overhaul of public safety hazards should be improved. Inspection and maintenance of public electrical facilities should be preemptive.
Safety must be given priority in infrastructure construction. The safety of public facilities including transport, water, electricity, drainage, heating and natural gas should be improved. This requires joint efforts of the international community. Chinese cities can learn from the experience of developed countries as well as come up with means that suit their own realities.
However, unlike investing in roads where the initial investment continues to create value, some underground networks are less effective in producing added value. The plan to upgrade networks should be carried out in a phased manner and public facilities should be adequate, yet not excess.
Households should learn how to prepare for and respond to natural disasters on their own before social services can assist them, such as watching weather forecast and checking appliances and utilities, as well as coordinating with government departments in disaster prevention and relief.
Safe development and management of the Chinese society should be underscored in building a moderately prosperous community and realizing socialist modernization. Protecting public safety through people from all walks of life and at home and abroad is a prerequisite to promoting people-centered development.
The author is a postgraduate student in translation studies at Beijing Language and Culture University. [email protected]