No announcement yet.

Disaster Preparation: Part I. The Dimensions of Disasters

This is a sticky topic.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Disaster Preparation: Part I. The Dimensions of Disasters

    Disaster Preparation: Part I. The Dimensions of Disasters was initially established in 2006 to track the spread of the H5N1 influenza virus. Since then, FluTrackers has been monitoring many other emerging infectious disease outbreaks around the world. Not only is FluTrackers a source of information about disease outbreaks, it also continues to promote personal and family preparedness as well. An important cornerstone of FluTrackers’ philosophy is being prepared for the unexpected.

    In keeping with the FluTrackers’ philosophy of preparedness, I will provide a three-part discussion on disaster preparation. This first part will include some observations about disasters in general. The second part will provide an overview of various things that should be considered when putting together a disaster plan and a preparation kit for you and your family. The third part will discuss issues related to disease outbreaks.

    Disasters can be categorized in many different ways along many different dimensions. Some schemes contrast man-made disasters with natural disasters. Other schemes distinguish between geophysical, hydrological, climatological, meteorological, and biological disasters. Perhaps the most important dimension of a disaster is its geographic scale. As shown in the graphic below disasters can range in scope from a household disaster to a worldwide disaster. Media outlets today concentrate on regional disaster stories that affect large areas and many people. These reports about regional disasters increase viewership and drive people to associated commercial links. Generally these large-scale regional disasters cause extensive damage or have high fatality rates.
    Click image for larger version

Name:	Scale of Disasters.jpg
Views:	312
Size:	144.0 KB
ID:	746716

    However, there are other smaller-scale disasters that may occur and have serious consequences, although they may only be reported locally. Household disasters can be devastating to you and your family. Local disasters may not only affect you and your family but possibly friends and neighbors and maybe even your entire community.

    On a geographic scale of disasters, the potential for worldwide disasters is unappreciated. Such disasters have occurred in the past and may again occur in the future. Because these catastrophes such as an asteroid strike or an eruption of a supervolcano cannot be controlled or prevented, preparations for such worldwide disasters are generally not considered by individuals and their families.

    Disasters are unexpected by their very nature. They are variable in size, location, duration, extent, etc. There are other dimensions of disasters such as a temporal component that need to be considered. For example, an explosion has an immediate impact, while a worldwide disaster such as global warming or global cooling will occur over a much longer period of time. Predictions of impending disasters are generally poor. Only recently because of modern technology, have we been able to predict large-scale meteorological disasters such as hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms, etc. these predictions may give people several days of advanced warning to prepare. Shorter-term predictions with less accuracy exist for tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes; sometimes there is only a few hours or less of warning. In most cases, there is generally no warning for man-made disasters such as bridge collapses, dam failures, terrorist attacks, etc.

    One important dimension of disasters that is often overlooked is local meteorological conditions. Local meteorological conditions can exacerbate or ameliorate the effects of an existing disaster. For example, high winds may help a wildfire quickly spread, while rainy conditions might put it out. Other meteorological conditions that can affect disasters are constrained by geography.
    If you live near the equator and at sea level you do not have to worry about ice storms or blizzards, however tsunamis and hurricanes are potential threats. The farther you live north or south from the equator the more temperature extremes will have an effect on local disasters. Similarly, elevation is also an important factor that affects meteorological conditions. If you live at higher elevations, ice storms, avalanches, and volcanic activity could be life-threatening.

    Depending on where you live, by elevation and by distance from the equator, you will need to factor in potential meteorological conditions when preparing for a potential disaster. At low elevations and warmer climates, warm clothing and permanent shelter is less significant during a disaster. However cooling and air conditioning need to be considered at lower elevations and closer to the equator as is temperatures climb due to global warming. Your disaster preparation plans should include considerations of meteorological extremes in your area.

    Along with differential meteorological conditions, different geographic regions have different probabilities for different kinds of disasters. For example people living in coastal cities need to be concerned about tsunamis, if you live far inland a tsunami not a disaster that you need to be concerned about. If you live in a geologically active region, earthquakes and volcanoes could be a primary threat. Flooding is always a threat in the lowland areas.

    Preparing for a disaster and developing a disaster plan for you and your family is a complex process. Different locales have different threats for different kinds of disasters. Understanding the different dimensions of disasters can help you make better, informed decision about how best to prepare for a disaster.

    Disaster Preparation: Part II. Considering Emergency Preparation Kits

    Disaster Preparation: Part III. Planning for the Next Worldwide Disaster