In many cases, it is impossible to prevent disasters but there are measures that can be taken to help prepare for disasters; some of these are outlined below:
- Early warning systems: early warning systems can detect signs of disasters such as heavy rainfall that could cause flooding, hurricanes and tornadoes, earthquakes and heavy snowfall.
- Stocking up: if a disaster is on its way, people should consider stocking up on food supplies and things like candles and warm blankets. It is always advisable to have basic medical supplies and a first aid kit on hand as well.
- Education: this is not such a problem in the UK but in the developing world, where disasters are common, it is important to educate people about preparing for disasters.
- Report suspicious behaviour: this is important with reference to terrorism. If you see an unattended package or you suspect an individual is behaving in a suspicious manner, report it to the police or a security professional.
Coping with disasters
Large scale disasters, especially those that occur in developing countries, often require international intervention and considerable aid efforts. Volunteers work hard to ensure people are safe and healthy and try to restore buildings, basic services and transport networks; transport links are particularly important because without them it is extremely difficult to distribute aid. When whole communities are destroyed people rely on both national and international aid efforts for clean water and food supplies, medical care and shelter.
In the UK, disasters do not generally cause widespread chaos but emergency services, breakdown services, environmental agencies, energy providers and volunteer organisations are often required to work round the clock to restore normal activity.
Natural disasters can cause severe emotional upheaval for many people, which can contribute to serious mental health issues. People may experience severe problems as a result of a loss of possessions, losing their home, being displaced or even losing a loved one; this can take a long time to get over and the person may require professional help and support. Counselling can help people to try and get over difficult situations and can reduce the risk of them suffering from conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression.
Natural disasters may also cause physical health problems and people may require medical treatment; this is not usually a problem for patients in the UK as medical services are abundant in this country and the NHS provides a comprehensive service to all patients without them having to travel for treatment. In developing countries, people may have to wait for days and even weeks for medical treatment as resources are very limited and it can take a long time for aid efforts to be coordinated.