Differences Between Mitigation and Preparedness

Part I What are the primary differences between Mitigation and Preparedness? Research and describe three examples of each. The United States experiences a variety of natural disasters throughout the year. Because of hurricanes on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico coasts, earthquakes near the San Andreas and other fault lines, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes in the plains, and floods throughout the Midwest, the United States suffers approximately $1 billion in losses each week. From 1990-93, losses surpassed those during the previous decade, mainly due to Hurricane Andrew, the Midwest and Northwest floods, and the Northridge Earthquake.

Regardless of the location of a natural disaster in the United States, a program of disaster preparedness, mitigation, management, and prevention must be followed. (McMillan, 1998) Disasters can be described as a cycle with three phases, BEFORE, DURING and AFTER.

The “BEFORE” phase is that period of time before a disaster hits, including the time when a warning and/or alert is announced, during which preparation and mitigation activities may take place, with the objective of decreasing people’s vulnerability and reducing the negative impacts of disasters.

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The “AFTER” phase is the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase, after the immediate danger has past, when people and communities put their lives, livelihoods, and homes back together. This paper will concentrate on the BEFORE phase with mitigation and preparedness in this section. According to Bullock, mitigation refers to the continued action taken to reduce or eliminate risk to people and property from hazards and their effects.

Mitigation activities address either the probability and consequence or both components of risk. By mitigating either of these components, the risk becomes much less of a threat to the affected population. In the case of natural disasters, the ability of humans to limit the probability of a hazard is widely dependent on the hazard type. Hazards such as hurricanes or tornadoes are impossible to prevent while avalanches, floods, and wildfires are examples of hazards for which limiting the rate of occurrence is possible. (Bullock, 2013)

A natural disaster has the potential to cause unseen physical and psychological damage, damage that could be lessened with some preparation if you’re in an area that is vulnerable to a destructive act of nature. All disasters offer their own unique challenges and have different ways to mitigate them before they happen. For example: Tsunami Mitigation:

  • Find out if your house is in danger and know the height of your street above sea level
  • Be familiar with warning signs (earthquakes, ground rumbling, or rapid rise and fall of coastal waters)
  • Ensure all family members know how to respond Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1
  • Have disaster supplies on hand (flashlight, extra batteries, portable battery-operated radio, first aid kit, emergency food and water, nonelectric can operator, cash and credit cards, and sturdy shoes
  • Develop an emergency communications plan in case of separation during the earthquake Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the family contact. (Ready. ov)

Tornado Mitigation:

  • Conduct tornado drills into each season
  • Designate an area in the home as a shelter
  • Have disaster supplies on hand
  • Develop an emergency communications plan in case of separation
  • Know the difference between a tornado watch (issued when tornadoes are possible in your area) and a warning (tornadoes have been sighted by radar)
  • Take shelter in a building with a strong foundation If shelter is not available, lie in ditch or low-lying area a safe distance away from the mobile home
  • Learn danger signs: An approaching cloud of debris an make the location even if a funnel is not visible, before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become still, and generally occur near the edge of a thunderstorm; you can often see clear skies following a tornado. (Ready. gov)

Wildfire Mitigation:

  • Learn and teach safe fire practices Build fires away from nearby trees or bushes, always have a way to extinguish a fire, never leave a fire unattended
  • Obtain local building codes and weed abatement ordinances for buildings near wooded areas
  • Use fire-resistant materials when building, renovating, or retrofitting structures
  • Create a safety zone to separate home from combustible plants and vegetables
  • Install electrical lines underground, if possible Prune all branches around residence to a height of 8-10 feet
  • Keep trees adjacent to buildings free of dead or dying wood and moss
  • Remove all dead limbs, needles, and debris from rain gutters
  • Store combustible/flammable materials in approved safety containers and keep away from home
  • Keep chimney clean
  • Avoid open burning, especially during dry season.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home
  • Make evacuation plans from home and neighborhood and have back up plans
  • Avoid using wooden shakes and shingles for roofing Use only thick, tempered safety glass in large windows and doors
  • Have a disaster supplies on hand
  • Develop an emergency communication plan in case of separation
  • Ask an out-of-state relative to serve as the “family contact” (ready. gov)

Preparing for an emergency provides you your best chance of survival, in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. Emergency preparedness should always be considered in the home and workplace for any unexpected event.

Devastating acts, such as Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and the 9/11 attacks have left concerns about the possibility of future events and their potential impact. These acts have raised out awareness of the importance of emergency preparedness. The 2004 National Response Plan defines Preparedness as “the range of deliberate, critical tasks and activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve the operational capability to prevent, protect against, response to, and recover from domestic incidents.

Preparedness is a continuous process involving efforts at all levels of government and between government and private-sector and nongovernmental organizations to identify threats, determine vulnerabilities, and identify resources. ” (NRP 71). In simple terms, preparedness activities can be characterized as the human component of pre-disaster hazard management. Training and public education are the most common preparedness activities, and when properly applied, they have great potential to help people survive disasters.

Although, preparedness activities do little to prevent a disaster from occurring, they are very effective at ensuring that people know what to do once the disaster has happened. (Bullock, 2013) While, preparedness is the steps taken to deal with an event once it occurs, mitigation is the steps taken to eliminate or reduce the risks created by hazards. Previously, mitigation factors were discussed for wildfire, tornado, and tsunami. Some examples of a preparedness activity is to create an emergency communications plan, establishing meeting places, and assemble disaster supplies or a 72hour emergency preparedness kit.

When creating an emergency communications plan choose an out-of-town contact your family will call or e-mail to check on each other should a disaster occur. They should live far enough away that they would not be directly affected by the same event, and of course they should know they are the contact. Also, make sure every member has all have each other’s contact information to include email, cell phone, and home/work phone. The children’s school should have this contact information as well. Another, thing to remember is to be patient as with a disaster the phone lies will get overwhelmed.

Having predetermined meeting places away from your home will save time and minimize confusion should your home be affected or the area evacuated. Make arrangements to stay with a family member or friend in case of an emergency. Be sure to include your pets in these plans, since pets are not permitted in shelters and some hotels will not accept them as they are just as much a part of the family as anyone else. Have two emergency locations, each in opposite directions. You never know, until an actual emergency, which direction you will need to evacuate.

If you need to leave your home having some essential supplies at your disposal will make it more comfortable for the family. Prepare an emergency preparedness kit in something easy-to-carry such as a duffel bag or small plastic trashcan. Include “special needs” items, first aid supplies (i. e. prescription medications), a change of clothing for each family member, a sleeping bag or bedroll for each, a battery powered radio or television and extra batteries, food, bottled water and tools. (NTARC, 2012) In conclusion, mitigation and preparedness are very important with respects of a disaster response and recover.

Just think of in this manner to put everything into perspective. In order to give your family and yourself the best chances of survival during a disaster you must to have a plan in place and think of all the factors that you can do before hand to minimize the impact of a disaster. Like we do in the Navy, before we pull out to sea we have a very big checklist that we adhere to and list all the factors that can go wrong then brief a response to those factors. This will ensure everyone knows his or her responsibility. It saves lives and promotes a safety first environment.

Being proactive is the key to minimizing the loss of human life, injuries, financial losses, property damage and the interruption of business activities. Methods my change between hazards and incidents, but the goals are always the same.

References

  • Bullock, J. A. , Haddow, G. D. , & Coppla, D. P. (2013).
  • Introduction to homeland security. (4th ed. ).
  • Waltham, MA: Butterworth-heinemann. Department of Homeland Security. (Nov 2004).
  • National Response Plan, Washington D. C. , DHS Department of Homeland Security (November 9, 2012).
  • Ready. Gov. Retrieved November 9, 2012 from http://www. ready. gov/america/index. html McMillian, C. R. (1998).
  • Natural disasters: prepare, mitigate, manage. Retrieved from http://www. csa. com/discoveryguides/archives/ndht. php Peace Corps (Sep 2001).
  • Disaster preparation and mitigation. Retrieved From http://files. peacecorps. gov/multimedia/pdf/library/T0124_dpm_ist. pdf
  • National Terror Alert Response Center (2012), Emergency preparedness. Retrieved from http://www. nationalterroralert. com/emergency_preparedness/

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