3 critical factors for Disaster Mitigation
The devastating effects of disaster can be endless: they can bring about the loss of lives, cause irreversible damage to property, affect employment and trigger damage to both physical infrastructures and the environment. While disasters are often unpredictable, there are ways in which we can try to mitigate them through knowledge management; a practice that can enhance the process of disaster management, where there is a perceived gap in information coordination and sharing within the context of disaster management. Identification of key disaster knowledge factors will be an enabler to manage disasters successfully.
Disaster mitigation is thus: the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. And in order for any sort of mitigation to be effective, it’s essential to take action imminently, rather than waiting for the next disaster, in order to reduce, or altogether illuminate any sort of consequences that might come from a potential disaster. It is – unfortunately – a sad fact of life that disasters of any sort and size, can occur at any time, and when unprepared the effects can be lethal. Disaster mitigation, therefore, are measures that eliminate or reduce the impacts and risks of hazards through proactive measures taken before an emergency or disaster occurs.
In order to mitigate a disaster effectively and successfully, it is essential that everyone involved in the mitigating of the disaster understands the following: the local and immediate risks, the hard choices that need to be made to eliminate and prevent the disaster from occurring, and the importance in investing in long-term community well being.
Since disasters can strike at anytime, anywhere, and often with little to no advance warning, it is important to have proper precautions in place, along with a succinct disaster recovery plan. Unfortunately, not all buildings or businesses have plans in place, leaving facility management staff scrambling when trying to figure out infrastructure damage and any other business disruptions. Without a proper plan to cope with a disaster situation, lawsuits can arise from tenants, distributors, or employees claiming negligence.
While there have been endless examples of how disaster mitigation has played out in the face of natural disasters, one of the best known instances of investment in disaster mitigation is the Red River Floodway. Built in the 1960s to reduce the impact of flooding in the Red River Basin, while it cost $60 million to build, its use during the 1997 Red River Flood alone saved an estimated $6 billion.
The most successful way in which disasters can be mitigated is by taking an all-hazards emergency management approach which looks at all potential risks and impacts, both natural and human-induced which essentially ensures that any decisions made to mitigate against one type of risk do not increase our vulnerability to other risks.
There are a variety of different disaster mitigation measures that can be taken: they may be structural (e.g. flood dikes) or non-structural (e.g. land use zoning). All mitigation activities should include measuring and assessing the evolving risk environment for maximum effect. Activities can and may include the creation of comprehensive, pro-active tools that help decide where to focus funding and efforts in risk reduction.
Further examples of mitigation measures include, hazard mapping, adoption and enforcement of land use and zoning practices, implementing and enforcing building codes, flood plain mapping, reinforced tornado safe rooms, burying of electrical cables to prevent ice build-up, raising of homes in flood-prone areas, disaster mitigation public awareness programs, and insurance programs.
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