Differences Between Mitigation and Preparedness

Topics: Emergency management, Hurricane Katrina, United States Department of Homeland Security Pages: 6 (1688 words) Published: November 28, 2012
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. The “DURING” phase is that period of time during which lives and livelihoods are at risk and lasts until the danger is over. 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.gov)

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...

References: Bullock, J. A., Haddow, G. D., & Coppla, D. P. (2013). Introduction to homeland
Department of Homeland Security. (Nov 2004). National Response Plan,
Washington D.C., DHS

Department of Homeland Security (November 9, 2012)
November 9, 2012 from http://www.ready.gov/america/index.html
McMillian, C
from http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/archives/ndht.php
Peace Corps (Sep 2001)
From http://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/library/T0124_dpm_ist.pdf
National Terror Alert Response Center (2012), Emergency preparedness
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