Orientation Objective

In this section on Disasters and Emergencies, we will review some general disaster-related terminology and discuss three primary types of hazards, as defined by the emergency management field, in order to familiarize you with the language and context of disaster services.

Disasters & Emergencies

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Risk is an unavoidable part of life. How we manage risks, both as individual citizens and as a society, partially determines our vulnerability to the variety of hazards that can affect us.


Some hazards we face as individuals may be small, such as falling down stairs or other type of accident. Some hazards can affect entire communities, states, even the country, by their damaging consequences. Such is the case with earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, or health epidemics.

Hazards Risk Management

It is impossible for any community, state, or nation as a whole, to plan for and prevent every possible hazard and its effects. Government leaders and emergency management agencies focus preparedness efforts on those hazards that are most likely to result in highly undesirable consequences if they were to occur.

By identifying, analyzing, and assessing potential hazards through a process called Hazards Risk Management, those responsible for the nation's disaster preparedness are able to maximize the use of resources, including limited disaster preparedness funds, so as to focus efforts on preparedness for those hazards with the greatest likelihood of occurrence, and the maximum negative consequences should they occur.