Disaster Management

Though, all kinds of disaster require more or less similar skill-sets and rescue-efforts at least a few days after the event, it is important to understand various kinds of disasters. Depending upon the actual nature of disaster, the immediate reaction needs to be different.

Also, the first few moments of disasters are distinctly different for each kind of disasters. Thus, understanding of each kind of disaster might also help in identifying the onset of a disastrous event, so that a trained person can undertake some key actions, during the initial few moments. This could have a major impact on the final outcome in terms of amount of final loss.

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  1. Content – Natural disaster / Industrial accidents / and population


These are primarily natural events. It is possible that certain human activities could maybe aid in some of these events, but, by and large, these are mostly natural events.


Earthquakes refer to shaking of earth. There is continuous activity going on below the surface of the earth. There are several large plates (size of continents) below the surface of the earth, which move (at a very slow speed). As a part of this movement, sometimes, they collide against each other. And, after the collision, they might still continue to push each other. As they continually keep pushing each other, there is a pressure building up – across these plates below the surface. And, then, at a certain time, one of the plates might slide over another. This causes an earthquake.

Some earthquakes might be caused by activity above the surface. For example in a mountainous region, there might be a heavy landslide. Due to a huge mass of land falling, at the point of the fall, there could be a minor shaking of earth, due the impact of fall. However, usually, such earthquakes are not very major.


Volcanoes refer to eruption of hot molten lava from below the surface of the earth. As plates move away from each other, at certain places, the surface might get stretched and thinner. In such a situation, the hot molten lava and gaseous substances below this thinned surface could open up a fissure and come out.

Typically, these eruptions are always accompanied by discharge of huge amount of gaseous substances, which are various compounds of high toxicity. All eruptions (gaseous or liquid) from a volcano is at high temperature, and, the mouth of a volcano might look like, as if it’s spewing fire.

The area around Pacific Ocean is characterized by higher volcanic activity. In fact, the entire rim along the Pacific Ocean is called as the “Ring Of Fire”, because of volcanic activity along this zone.


There are a lot of volcanic activities taking place on a continuous basis, across the globe, however, not all of these are serious enough to be termed as disasters. In fact, for most of these – just a moderate level of precaution might be sufficient.


Floods refer to huge amount of water reaching land in a short span of time, causing land surface to be submerged under water – at places, where, land surface is usually not covered with water.

Floods could be caused due to natural causes, or, human activities, or, a combination of both. Floods are caused by discharge of huge volume of water in a short span of time, at a rate, such that the water cannot be carried away from the scene of discharge.

Tornadoes, Typhoons, Cyclones

These are winds of high-speed, many times accompanied by heavy rainfall. These cause structural damage, snapped overhead wires, and, possibility of floods.

Because of damage to structure and overhead wires, utility services could be disrupted. Heavy rainfall could cause flooding also.

Many times, these could last for a few days. In such cases, any restoration and relief activities can not even start till these few days when the activities start subsiding.

The only thing good about these kinds of natural disasters is that they can be predicted to a reasonable degree – thanks to the advancement of meteorological sciences. And, in most cases, its possible to get a warning of up to several days. Usually, it is possible to take at least some preventive measures – during these few days of warning. In most cases, the preventive measure would include:

  • Moving into places which are safer, e.g. buildings which are structurally sound, and, are not prone to flooding
  • Not venturing out to sea etc for sports, fishing etc.

However, in spite of these warnings, damage to property cannot be mitigated much, as, immovable structures cannot be relocated.

Another important thing about these kinds of strong winds and rainfall is that they don’t appear totally at will. There are well-defined geographical areas, which tend to see incidents of typhoons and cyclones. This means that, people inhabiting these areas could take some fundamental care, while, building homes etc. These are:

  • Sturdy home, with very strong foundation and structure.
  • Typically, most people build basements. These basements provide good shelter, and, storage space for food and water to last for a few days for the entire household.
  • Proper embankments to prevent flooding etc.
  • Storage of cement-bags and plastic sheets to prepare additional embankments against flooding, if required.

The people who suffer the most are poor people, because:

  • they don’t have the means to build very strong houses, and hence, these houses get blown off/damaged
  • they don’t have the means to buy and store food and provisions for several days, causing them to take risks of venturing out during heavy winds/rainfalls to make some money
  • In coastal areas of poor country, fishermen have been known to venture out to sea, even during cyclones etc.
  1. Impact

Millions of people are affected by natural disasters every year, and the impact can be calamitous. From the destruction of buildings to the spread of disease, natural disasters can devastate entire countries overnight. Tsunamis, earthquakes and typhoons do not just wreak havoc on land; they also disrupt people’s lives, especially for those living in remote regions.

Displaced Populations

One of the most immediate effects of natural disasters is population displacement. When countries are ravaged by earthquakes and other powerful forces of nature, many people have to abandon their homes and seek shelter in other regions. A large influx of refugees can disrupt everything from accessibility of health care and education to food supplies and basic hygiene. Large-scale evacuations are common in light of the power of tsunamis and other natural disasters, and those fortunate enough to survive face a range of challenges following widespread destruction.

Health Risks

Aside from the obvious danger that natural disasters present, the secondary effects can be just as damaging. Typhoons, hurricanes and tsunamis often cause severe flooding, which can result in the spread of waterborne bacteria and malaria. As a result, health complications can be prevalent among survivors of natural disasters, and without the help of international relief organizations, death tolls can rise even after the immediate danger has passed.

Food Scarcity

After natural disasters, food can become scarce. Thousands of people around the world go hungry as a result of destroyed crops and a loss of agricultural supplies. The impacts of hunger following an earthquake, typhoon or hurricane can be tremendous, but fortunately, there are ways you can help.

Emotional Aftershocks

Natural disasters can be particularly traumatic for young children. Confronted with scenes of destruction and the deaths of friends and loved ones, many children develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious psychological condition resulting from extreme trauma. Left untreated, children suffering from PTSD can be prone to lasting psychological damage and emotional distress.

Although nobody can prevent natural disasters, we can help people in need in their wake. By making a donation to Disaster help agencies, you can help us provide food, clean water, health care and emotional support to children and communities displaced by natural disasters.

  1. Action

These are actions taken to immediately stabilize a situation and protect staff and collection material. Immediate action generally involves persons discovering an emergency assessing the situation and reporting it to those who need to know.

Disaster Management 11 Disaster Mgt

Short Term Actions

These are response actions taken to stabilize affected areas and protect collection material from further damage. Short term actions generally involve use of emergency supplies to cover collection material and contain the source of the emergency. Depending on the type of disaster short term actions also include assessment, consultation, documentation, planning, prioritization and exchange of information to develop appropriate long term actions.

Long Term Actions

Long term actions are recovery actions taken to salvage and restore collection material and affected areas. They include long term planning, salvage and treatment of collection material, restoration work on affected areas, reassessment of planning, post disaster assessment and reporting.

It should be noted that disaster incidents can take many different forms necessitating the adjustment of response and recovery procedures to suit the situation. Disasters occur with uncertain combinations of wet, moulds, burnt, smoke damaged and physically distorted collection material on an unpredictable scale. Every disaster has its own dilemmas requiring the right balance of assessment, decision and timely action, Type of disaster, type of material, location type of damage, available resources, opportunities for taking action and human safety are all likely to influence the decisions that need to be made and the allocation of priorities.

Disaster incidents which may affect collection

High Risk

  • Fire and smoke
  • Water and sewage leaks and associated mould outbreaks
  • Flood
  • Equipment malfunction

Medium Risk

  • Poor storage and handling
  • High dust levels

Low Risk

  • Mould outbreak
  • Vandalism
  • Insect and vermin attack
  • Bomb damage
  • Disasters involving material belonging to other owners
  • Theft

This section presents basic principles and procedures designed to deal with such incidents. It outlines general immediate, short and long term actions.

Persons Discovering a Disaster Incident During Normal Hours

Immediate Actions

When an emergency situation involving collection material is discovered:

  • Assess the situation noting:
  • Source of disaster
  • if collection material is affected
  • if the area is safe
  • Inform people who need to know urgently:
  • Security
  • Building and Security Services Help Desk
  • Preservation Services
  • Exhibition Registrar – if Exhibition areas affected
  • Your supervisor


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