A disaster is a natural or man-made (or
technological) hazard resulting in an event of
substantial extent causing significant physical
damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change
to the environment. A disaster can be ostensively
defined as any tragic event stemming from events
such as earthquakes, floods,
catastrophic accidents, fires, or explosions. It is a
phenomenon that can cause damage to life and
property and destroy the economic, social and
cultural life of people.
TYPES OF DISASTER
Generally, disasters are of two types – Natural
and Manmade. Based on the devastation, these
are further classified into major/minor natural
disaster and major/minor manmade disasters.
Some of the disasters are listed below,
Major natural disasters:
Major manmade disaster:
• Setting of fires
• Pollution due to prawn cultivation
• Chemical pollution.
Disaster management (or emergency
management) is the term used to designate the
efforts of communities or businesses to plan for and
coordinate all the personnel and materials required to
either mitigate the effects of, or recover from, natural
or man-made disasters, or acts of terrorism. Disaster
management does not avert or eliminate the threats,
although their study is an important part of the field.
Emergency management consists of five phases:
prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and
Prevention was recently added to the phases of
emergency management. It focuses on preventing
the human hazard, primarily from potential natural
disasters or terrorist attacks. Preventive measures
are taken on both the domestic and international
levels, designed to provide permanent protection
from disasters. Not all disasters, particularly natural
disasters, can be prevented, but the risk of loss of
life and injury can be mitigated with good
evacuation plans, environmental planning and
Personal mitigation is a key to national
preparedness. Individuals and families train to
avoid unnecessary risks. This includes an
assessment of possible risks to personal/family
health and to personal property, and steps taken to
minimize the effects of a disaster, or take procure
insurance to protect them against effects of a
Preparedness focuses on preparing equipment and
procedures for use when a disaster occurs.
Preparedness measures can take many forms
including the construction of shelters,
implementation of an emergency communication
system, installation of warning devices, creation of
back-up life-line services (e.g., power, water,
sewage), and rehearsing evacuation plans.
The response phase of an emergency may commence
with Search and Rescue but in all cases the focus will
quickly turn to fulfilling the
basic humanitarian needs of the affected population.
This assistance may be provided by national or
international agencies and organizations.
On a personal level the response can take the shape
either of a shelter in place or an evacuation
The recovery phase starts after the immediate threat to
human life has subsided. The immediate goal of the
recovery phase is to bring the affected area back
normalcy as quickly as possible. During reconstruction
it is recommended to consider the location or
construction material of the property.
WHAT IS AN EARTHQUAKE
Earthquake is a violent tremor in the earth’s
crust, sending out a series of shock waves
in all directions from its place of origin or
Earthquakes constitute one of the worst
natural hazards which often turn into
disaster causing widespread destruction
and loss to human life.
Seismic risk = hazard x exposure x
vulnerability x location
a sudden slipping or
movement of a portion
of the Earth’s crust,
followed by a series of
an earthquake of less
intensity that follows
the main earthquake
* As defined by FEMA
Causes of Earthquake
Earthquake may be caused by two types of forces.
1) Techtonic occurrence: techtonic occurrence like
faulting, breaking of rocks, raising or sinking of
layers of the earth, folding of the strata or vapour
seeking to escape from the earth.
2) volcanic activity: violent eruptions and intrusion
of igneous magma from below the earth.
Causes of Earthquake
Earthquakes are caused by sudden release of
energy in rocks. Plates in the form of rocks are
moving very slowly and earthquake occur
when moving plates grind and scrape against
each other. The point at which an earthquake
originates is the focus or hypocenter and the
point on the earth’s surface; directly above
this is epicenter. The study of earthquake is
Before an Earthquake Hits
1) Check for Hazards
2) Identify Safe Places Indoors & Outdoors
3) Learn How to Shut off Gas Valves
4) Have Emergency Supplies on Hand
5) Develop a Communication Plan
Check for Hazards
Fasten shelves and décor securely to walls
Place heavy objects on lower shelves
Hang heavy items away from places where people
Store any flammable products securely on bottom
shelves in proper containers
Identify Safe Places
Under sturdy furniture pieces such as a heavy
desk or table
Against an inside wall
Away from any and all glass
Away from heavy furniture that might fall over
In the open, away from buildings, trees, electrical
lines, overpasses etc.
Workplace Disaster Supplies
Flashlight & extra batteries
Emergency food and water
Nonelectric can opener
First Aid kit and manual
Tools & Supplies
Persons to identify after earthquake ceases:
Emergency Contact (family member/friend)
Your buddy property
Out of town contact
What to do during an earthquake
Don’t try to take cover in a doorway during an
The door may slam on you.
Don’t run during the shaking or use the stairways or
elevators. Many people are killed just outside buildings
because of falling bricks and other debris.
Don’t turn on the gas again if you have turned it off; let
Gas-company do it.
Don’t use your telephone for the first 90 minutes after
an earthquake, except for a medical or fire emergency.
You could tie up the lines needed for emergency
Two Vital Tips
If you’re indoors, stay there!
Steer clear of:
Glass and Mirrors
Any other heavy objects
If you are in house;
• Don’t use lift for getting down from building.
• Be prepared to move with your family.
If you are in shop ,school or office;
• Don’t run for an exit.
•Take cover under a disk/table.
•Move away from window glass.
•Do not go near electric point and cable. Keep away from weak portion of
the building and false ceiling.
If you are outside;
• Avoid high buildings , walls , power lines and other objects
that could fall and create block.
• Don’t run through streets.
• If possible , move on to an open area away from hazard
If you are in vehicle;
• Stop in a safe open place.
• Remain inside vehicle.
• Close window , doors and vents.
DUCK under a
strong table or other
COVER your head
with your hands or
HOLD the position
After the Quake
Move very carefully
Use caution when exiting or entering buildings
Check for injured or trapped persons
Do not move unless in immediate danger
Check water supplies
Salvage canned goods
Turn-on battery-operated radio for latest safety reports
Immediately check for fires
Fires start from broken gas line and appliance connections
Use a flashlight when looking for gas leaks or fire hazards,
do not use a lighted match or lantern!
Don’t use electrical switches or appliances if gas leaks are
suspected because sparks can ignite gas from broken lines
Never touch downed powerlines or objects in contact with
Utilize your Communication Plan
Emergency Contact (family member/friend)
Your buddy property
Out of town contact (if quake is severe)
Floods are the most common and widespread of all
natural disasters. India is one of the highly flood
prone countries in the world. Around 40 million
hectares of land in India is prone to floods as per
National Flood Commission report. Floods cause
damage to houses, industries, public utilities and
property resulting in huge economic losses, apart
from loss of lives. Though it is not possible to control
the flood disaster totally, by adopting suitable
structural and non-structural measures the flood
damages can be minimised. For planning any flood
management measure latest, reliable, accurate and
timely information is required. In this context satellite
remote sensing plays an important role.
Floods are caused by many factors:
Severe winds over water,
Unusual high tides,
Failure of dam levels,
Retention ponds, or other structures that
contained the water
Severe winds over water
Even when rainfall is relatively light, the
shorelines of lakes and bays can be flooded by
severe winds—such as during hurricanes—that
blow water into the shore areas.
Unusual high tides
Coastal areas are sometimes flooded by
unusually high tides, such as spring tides,
especially when compounded by high winds
and storm surges.
Effects of Floods
Flooding has many impacts.
It damages property and endangers the lives
of humans and other species.
Rapid water runoff causes soil erosion and
concomitant sediment deposition elsewhere
(such as further downstream or down a coast).
The spawning grounds for fish and other
wildlife habitats can become polluted or
Some prolonged high floods can delay traffic
in areas which lack elevated roadways.
Floods can interfere with drainage and
economic use of lands, such as interfering with
Structural damage can occur in bridge
abutments, bank lines, sewer lines, and other
structures within floodways.
Waterway navigation and hydroelectric power
are often impaired. Financial losses due to
floods are typically millions of dollars each
Flood Warning Definitions:
Minor flooding causes inconvenience such as closure of minor local roads
and low bridges.
Low lying areas will be inundated requiring removal of stock, equipment
and evacuation of isolated homes. Main traffic bridges may be covered.
Higher areas will be inundated with isolation of towns and properties,
causing extensive damage.
Where intense rain can be expected to cause high run-off in restricted
areas, but doesn't cause significant rises in main streams.
Significant River Rises
This term is used when river rises are expected but it is not certain what
flood levels will be exceeded in main streams. This term will be used by
the Bureau of Meteorology to alert landholders of the need to remove
pumps and irrigation equipment from waterways and plan for stock
What can you do when you receive a flood
Listen to your local radio station for severe storm advice
Plan to move vehicles, outdoor equipment, garbage,
chemicals and poisons to higher locations.
Plan which indoor items you will raise or empty if water
threatens your home (e.g. freezers and refrigerators).
Check your emergency kit and safeguard your pets.
What to do if you need to evacuate?
Pack warm clothing, essential medications, valuables,
personal papers, mobile phone, photos and mementos in
waterproof bags to be taken with your emergency kit.
Raise furniture, clothing and valuables on to beds, tables
and into roof spaces.
Empty freezers and refrigerators, leaving doors open;
Turn off power, water and gas.
Whether you leave or stay, put sandbags in the toilet
bowl and over all laundry/bathroom drain holes to
prevent sewage back-flow.
Lock your home and take recommended evacuation
routes for your area.
Don’t drive in water of unknown depth and current.
What do you do if you stay or on your return?
Listen to your local radio station for official Advices and
Don’t allow children to play in, or near flood waters;
Avoid entering floodwaters. If you must, wear solid shoes
and check depth and current with a stick;
Stay away from drains, culverts and water over knee-
Don’t use gas or electrical appliances which have been in
flood water until checked for safety;
Don’t eat food which has been in flood waters; and
Boil tap water until supplies have been declared safe.
Out of the country's total geographical area of 329 million
hectares about 45 million hectares is flood prone. Till March
2007, an area of 18.22 m ha has been provided with protection
against floods by way of construction of embankments,
drainage channels, town protection works and providing
The Union Government is providing Central assistance to the
flood prone States to take up some of the critical works. The
Central Government is also providing Central assistance to
the border and North Eastern States for taking up certain
The Government of India has launched a "Flood Management
Programme" as a State sector scheme, to provide Central
assistance to the States during XI plan for taking up flood
control, river management, drainage development, flood
proofing and anti-sea erosion works.
A network of Flood Forecasting and Warning System has
been established by the Central Water Commission in
State river basins and flood forecasts are being issued
through 175 stations, out of which 147 are river level
forecasting stations and 28 are inflow forecasting stations
spread over 9 major river basins. During the flood season
2008-09, 6,675 flood forecasts (with 97% accuracy) were
issued to the state Government/local administration in
order to take timely action to save live stocks and public
properties. Forecasts about
Water levels likely to be attained in rivers as a result of
Volume of inflow into reservoirs, are formulated and
disseminated to various administrative authorities of
Central Government, State Government and District
Administration, media and other users on the basis of
A cyclone is an area of closed, circular fluid motion
rotating in the same direction as the Earth. This is
usually characterized by inward spiraling winds that
rotate anti-clockwise in the Northern
Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern
Hemisphere of the Earth.
CYCLONE: HOW IS IT FORMED
Tropical cyclones form only over warm ocean waters near
To form a cyclone, warm, moist air over the ocean rises
upward from near the surface. As this air moves up and
away from the ocean surface, it leaves is less air near the
surface. So basically as the warm air rises, it causes an
area of lower air pressure below.
Air from surrounding areas with higher air pressure
pushes in to the low pressure area. Then this new “cool”
air becomes warm and moist and rises, too. And the cycle
CYCLONE: HOW IS IT FORMED
As the warmed, moist air rises and cools the water
in the air forms clouds. The whole system of clouds
and wind spins and grows, fed by the ocean’s heat
and water evaporating from the ocean surface.
As the storm system rotates faster and faster, an
eye forms in the centre. It is very calm and clear in
the eye, with very low air pressure. Higher pressure
air from above flows down into the eye.
During a Cyclone:
• Turn off all electricity, gas and water and unplug all appliances
• Keep your Emergency Kit close at hand
• Bring your family into the strongest part of the house
• Keep listening to the radio for cyclone updates and remain indoors until
• If the building begins to break up, immediately seek shelter under a strong
table or bench or under
a heavy mattress
• BEWARE THE CALM EYE OF THE CYCLONE.
Some people venture outdoors during the eye of the cyclone, mistakenly
believing that the cyclone has passed. Stay inside until you have received
official advice that it is safe to go outside.
After a Cyclone:
The time immediately after a cyclone is often just as
dangerous as the initial event itself.
Many injuries and deaths have occurred as a result of people
failing to take proper precautions while exploring collapsed
buildings and sightseeing through devastated streets.
• Do not use electrical appliances which have been wet until
they are checked for safety
• Boil or purify your water until supplies are declared safe
• Stay away from damaged powerlines, fallen trees and flood
Land Use Policy
The most effective and least expensive mitigation strategy available
is restriction to development in areas at risk from tropical cyclones.
By not permitting building of homes and businesses in areas
threatened by flooding, you immediately reduce the greatest risk of
loss of life. At opposition to this solution is the economic benefit of
developing in coastal areas. Many enterprises, including
transportation, seaports, large industry complexes tied to proximity
of ports, and of course tourism make the high risk areas for tropical
cyclone impact desirable for population centers growth. We have
found only minimal restrictions to growth in high risk areas
worldwide, thus must look to other strategies to mitigate the
reality of development in the coastal regions.
Proper building codes that specify the resistance to wind, wind driven
debris, and height above defined flood risks are another well defined
strategy for mitigating property loss. Considerable advances in
structural design and building materials have occurred over the past
several decades. In the United States there have been a number of
code related improvements that will result in less loss of property and
provide a higher level of safety to people. Various engineering
associations have developed building techniques to meet design
criteria to protect against wind. Where building codes are adopted and
builders are careful to learn and follow the engineering practices,
successful mitigation takes place. On the other hand, where local
politics subverts the carefully designed engineering code or where the
construction practice is flawed, failures still occur.
Preparedness is taking the necessary actions for a person, family,
business, city and country to minimize the loss of life and
property from and impending event. Preparedness involves
making plans, identifying and procuring resources needed, and
testing your plans through exercises. At the state and local level,
officials need to have in place action plans and resources to
respond when a storm threatens. Transportation and industry
issues, as well as vulnerable population issues, require longer
lead times in order to get ready. Preparedness for the general
public centers on having the supplies one needs to survive on
hand, a means of protecting one’s house, and, if required, a plan
for evacuation if in a high risk area due to storm surge.