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Introduction to Disasters

Kathryn Patricelli, MA

The Wikipedia defines the term disaster quite nicely:

"A disaster is a natural or man-made event that negatively affects life, property, livelihood or industry often resulting in permanent changes to human societies, ecosystems and environment."

tornadoAs the definition suggests, disasters are highly disruptive events that cause suffering, deprivation, hardship, injury and even death, as a result of direct injury, disease, the interruption of commerce and business, and the partial or total destruction of critical infrastructure such as homes, hospitals, and other buildings, roads, bridges, power lines, etc. Disasters can be caused by naturally occurring events, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, or tornadoes, or they can be due to man-made events, either accidental (such as an accidental toxic spill or nuclear power plant event), or deliberately caused (such as various terrorist bombings and poisonings).

Certain types of natural disasters are more likely to occur in particular parts of the world. For instance, areas near coastlines, lakes or rivers are more likely to experience flooding problems than are land-locked areas. However, most every place you could live is prone to one type of natural disaster or another. No place is absolutely safe from natural disaster. And, of course it goes without saying that no place is safe from the threat of terrorism and other man-made disaster events.

It may be impossible to avoid disasters, but it isn't impossible to plan ahead of time so as to minimize the impact that any given disaster might have on you or your family's health, safety and property. There are steps you can take ahead of time, including, purchasing the proper types of insurance, preparing a disaster kit and supplies, making a disaster plan and rehearsing it with your family, and staying informed so that you can do your best to get out of the way of predictable dangerous occurrences, that can help you, your family, and your property stay as safe as possible.

The following documents describe various types of disasters that can occur, and outline the important steps to take to prepare for their occurrence. Please read on ...