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Disasters are a sudden, accidental event of great magnitude that causes considerable damage to life and property. They are unanticipated, drastic and normally occur without any alarm or warning. History has always been supportive and evident to the fact that disasters were the prime reason for the damage and loss of human lives and their properties. Science is advancing and speeding at its own pace, technologies have been upgraded and updated from time to time, yet, “unfortunately” we haven’t achieved the level or made advancement to the extent where we can stop natural calamities or disasters from happening or, at least, face them reasonably. These sudden and unpredictable events have made we humans helpless often! In spite of various preventative measures taken, there exist not a single home on this earth that can be claimed as a “disaster-proof” structure. However, the best and the simplest way to protect ourselves and our homes from these disasters, is to have more awareness about them and stay protected during their occurrence. Hence, it becomes essential for us to know about them in detail and understand their effects, and the damage they can cause to us and our properties.
Types Of Disasters
Disasters can be mainly categorised as – Natural and Man-made. Nature has been exceptionally benevolent and always at the giving end to all living things. Yet, at its extreme odd, it can be equally devastating, highly destructive and damaging. Such undesirable form of Nature is what we call “natural disaster”. Natural disaster includes floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, fires, and tsunami.
Man–made disaster is disaster resulting from man–made hazards as contradictory to natural disasters. Man–made disaster involves an element of human intent, negligence, mishandling of dangerous equipments, or error; or involving a failure of a man–made system. Common examples of these disasters are train accidents, aero plane crashes, collapse of buildings, bridges, mines, tunnels, etc. Man-made disasters that primarily cause significant property damage and loss of life are accidents i.e. building collapsing and fire explosions.
Let us categorically understand various forms of Disasters.
01. Natural Disasters:
Natural disaster includes floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, fires, and tsunami. Let us study them one by one:
Flood is the situation that typically occurs in monsoon season in which the rainwater concentrates on the land due to the rise of sea tides into the river. The concentration of rain increases on the ground due to the problem of sediment deposition, drainage congestion and synchronization of river. Every weather department of that particular country predicts the occurrence of a flood. Many of us are used to checking the weather forecast daily. Although, such disasters are fore casted, we are alerted way ahead, yet we face tough times during floods. This is due to sheer lack of awareness. Thus, in order to stay safe and keep your houses safe during and after the flood, below mentioned are the tips you need to follow.
Hurricane is a high intensity cyclone with violent wind which occurs over the ocean and travels towards the land. The cyclone is named depending upon the location of its occurrence. For example,
- The storm occurring in the Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific is called Hurricane.
- The storm occurring in the Northwest Pacific is known as Typhoon.
- The storm in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean is known as Tropical Cyclone.
As per the National public service campaign (Ready), USA, the hurricane in Atlantic Ocean may strike between June 1 to November 30, and in the Pacific Ocean, it may strike between May 15 to November 30.
All cyclones cause heavy loss of life and damage to the properties. Hence, it is better to be prepared before it strikes.
To protect yourself and your house, please refer the Do’s & Don’t while a cyclone strikes.
Earth’s crust is made up of uneven layers of soil or rocks which consist of faults at many places. These faults are the geological faults which appear as planar fracture or cracks on the earth crust. The geological faults form a tectonic plate and it moves over a time. In the earth crust, sometimes these moving plates release higher energy in the form of the wave due to which the earth shakes. This shaking of earth is known as an Earthquake. The earthquake is measured in the magnitude on Richter scale. During the earthquake, the severity of shaking at a particular location is said to be worst based upon the intensity of the earthquake. There’s a difference between the magnitude and intensity of the earthquake. One shouldn’t get confused or intermingle these terms. To understand the difference, please refer the topic – intensity v/s magnitude of earthquake.
Now that you are very well familiar with what the earthquake is, the next question is, how do we protect ourselves during an earthquake. To minimize the injuries and human loss during the earthquake, you need to understand the Drop, Cover & Hold method.
Please refer Drop, Cover & Hold method and also go through the tips mentioned below to protect yourself during an earthquake.
(d) Volcanic Eruption:
A volcano is the most explosive vent in the earth crust from which the molten rock in the form of lava, the cloud of ash and gases come out, and those are released into the atmosphere. There is a magma (a molten and semi-molten rock mixture) already present in the earth crust. When the tectonic plates move, the magma applies pressure at a particular location, and the volcano explodes. In the case of active volcanoes, vent continuously discharges the lava which floats on the ground.
Landslides are defined as a downward movement of solid mass like soil, rock, etc. under the effect of gravity. The snow melt, rainfall, stream erosion, earthquakes, volcanic activity, or human-made disturbances, or any combination of these makes the solid mass unstable against the gravity of earth. Thus, landslides occur when the gravity forces acting on the mass becomes higher than the strength of the earthy solid mass. The landslides cause a property damage, injury and death and adversely affect the other resources like water supply system, sewer disposal system, etc.
Fire is combustion of any material that releases light and heat. Fires can be human-made or occur naturally. Natural fire is usually started by lightning or due to combustion of dry leaves or hay. Man-made fire is caused due to the several reasons. Sometimes fire can be brought under control whereas sometimes not. Whether the fires are man-made or occurs naturally, it is evident that it leads to a huge damage to the humans. For occurrence of fire, the essentially required elements are – heat, oxygen, and fuel.
A tsunami is a very large and high tidal wave, often caused by an earthquake or volcanic eruption in the ocean, which flows onto the coastal areas and destroy things. The height of the tidal wave increases continuously as it travels to the shore due to the decreases in the depth of the ocean. The tidal wave is the outcome of displacement of a large volume of water of ocean.
02. Environmental Emergencies:
It includes technological or industrial accidents, production, use or transportation of hazardous material, forest fires caused by humans.
03. Complex Emergencies:
It involves a break-down of authority, attacks on strategic installations, looting including conflict situations and war.
04. Pandemic Emergencies:
It involves a sudden contagious disease that affects health, disrupts services and businesses, and brings economic and social costs.
India and Natural Disaster
As per the report of high powered committee on disaster management published by National Centre for Disaster Management (India); the floods, high winds and earthquakes dominate (98%) the reported injuries, with ever increasing numbers in the last ten years.
India is the most disaster-prone country in the world
- Prone to Earthquake – Over 65% of land area
- Prone to Drought – 70% of land under cultivation
- Prone to Floods – 5% of land (40 million hectares)
- Prone to Cyclones – 8% of land (8,000 km Coastline)
A major disaster occurs every 2-3 years and 50 million peoples are affected annually. 1 million houses were damaged annually along with human, social and other losses. The annual average damage due to natural disasters has been estimated at 70 million USD during 1985 to 2003.
Consequences of Natural Disaster
Listed below are the adverse effects caused by natural disasters:
- Loss of life.
- Injury to human Being.
- Damage and destruction of property.
- Damage and destruction of production.
- Disruption of lifestyle.
- Loss of livelihood.
- Disruption of essential services.
- Damage to national infrastructure like, Road, Railway, Bridge, Port.
- Disruption of government systems.
- National economic loss.
- Sociological and psychological after effect.
How Can We Measure the Impact of Natural Disasters?
Disaster can interrupt essential services, i.e., electricity, water, health care, sewage/garbage removal, transportation and communications. The interruption can affect the social, health and economic networks of local communities and countries. Disasters have a major and long-lasting impact on human even long after the immediate effect has been mitigated. Poorly planned relief activities can have a specific and significant negative impact on the disaster victims and also on donors and relief agencies.
Disaster Management – Prevention and Preparedness
It is important that everyone join established programmers rather than attempting individual efforts. All local, regional, national and international organisations are involved in mounting a humanitarian response to disasters. Each will have a prepared disaster management plan. These plans cover prevention, preparedness, relief and recovery.
Do following key things and show up with preparedness to face the natural disaster.
- Stay informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses
- Make a family emergency plan
- Build an emergency supply kit
- Get involved in your community by taking action to prepare for emergencies