Disaster is an act, natural or man-made, which causes great disruption and in some cases, loss of life. It is a catastrophe which has devastating consequences. These include earthquake, flood, typhoon, tsunami, hurricane, cyclone, fire, stampede, collision, war etc. So, to minimize the risk and reduce the effect, one should always be prepared for such disasters.
Disaster management is the activity that is done to mitigate risk and overcome vulnerability. It prevents from a bad situation from becoming worse. It imbibes qualities like quick decision making, thinking on one’s toes and getting out of situations using only few basic things.
Although, preparedness can never be like real disaster situation but it builds in us the agility which is required in the real situation. It is very important that everyone learns from the process, it saves lives and households. It reduces the stress, anxiety and at the time of disaster it takes care of basic medical facilities and makes taking refuge easy.
Disaster management cannot be same for every calamity, viz. for earthquakes, one should go out in the open so that nothing falls on him/her, whereas in case of floods one should move to higher elevations to avoid the free flow of water. In case of fire, one should run away from the building under fire. So, one should prepare for all the possible disasters that the area is prone to, to avoid loss of lives and assets.
Disaster preparedness is an activity consisting of various steps and procedures. One should prepare a checklist for disaster preparedness. The equipment for all the possible disasters that can affect an area should be installed. The installation of safety equipment like smoke detectors, water sprinklers, fire extinguishers etc. should be taken care of. These equipment should be checked regularly and people should be made aware of how and when to use it. There should be proper and regular audits of these installations so that they are up to date and functioning, whenever required.
Emergency exit routes should be meticulously thought out. Routes to be avoided should be carefully displayed at a proper place. Emergency preparation drills should be conducted at regular intervals to familiarize everyone with the emergency activities. Everyone should be designated roles that they will be performing in case of disaster to eliminate chaos and panic.
Proper place of shelter should be finalized while preparing for the disaster. The place should be nearby and less prone to the disaster. Every family member/ employee in the office should be made aware of the shortest path to the meeting point. A nearby hospital or nursing home should be also visited while preparing for the disaster management. In case of disaster, one should not be left looking for a nearby clinic.
Emergency service kit should be prepared in advance which includes basic necessities like medicines, food, water, blanket, sewage treatment, flash light, clothes, tools etc. One should have a quick list of emergency contact numbers & close family members’ numbers as a part of the emergency service kit. Every family member should have a copy of these contact numbers so that they can inform about their well-being and whereabouts.
The kit should also include the do’s and don’ts in case of disaster, like, not to use lifts, avoid escalators, turn off the gas knob, avoid turning on lights, avoid going through running water as it may contain current, listen to radio for accurate information about the disaster etc. These instructions are different for every catastrophe. They should also be told and imbibed in minds of everyone while preparing for the disaster, as, these do’s and don’ts can save the amplification of the destruction.
Disaster management aims to cope with the disaster as best as possible. One disaster can lead to further catastrophes, so, if we manage the disaster well, we can reduce further damage. Disaster management is a very stressful and challenging task. It is not like managing a disaster preparation drill but an actual situation which tests the pro-activeness and agility of a person. One has to make do with the available resources and utilize them in best way possible to stabilize the situation. It not just means taking care of oneself, but also managing others in distress.
But one should always remember, first take care of oneself and then help others. The priority during life threatening disasters is women and children as they are the life givers and future of the nation.
Once the calamity has struck and the after effects managed, disaster management also takes care of bringing the life back to its normal course. Therefore, the entire disaster preparedness and management is not limited to the time the disaster has occurred but also includes its aftermath it. The main aim of disaster management is to bring lives back to normal course as soon as possible and with least disruption.
A National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) has been launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 1 June 2016. It is the first disaster preparedness plan of the country to manage adversities. Its main objective is to make India less prone to adversities and reduce loss of lives. Its major focus areas are warning about the upcoming disaster, medical help, transportation facility, evacuation procedure and search and rescue. It spells out the roles of local governments and municipal bodies in case of disaster. It is a great initiative by the country which strengthens its base as a safe and secure place to live in. Better safe than sorry, isn’t it!