Emergency vs Disaster
Two words, emergency, and disaster, are scary and send ripples down the spine of everyone. Though emergency is a situation of grave risk to health, life, or environment, and disaster is any phenomenon, natural or man made, that has the potential to cause a lot of destruction of life and property, the mere mention of either of these two words is enough to make people jittery. Yes, emergency and disaster are closely inter related but there are differences between the two that will be highlighted in this article.
As described above, emergency refers to any situation that is threatening and requires quick response from you. When you see a risk to self, property, health or environment, you act hurriedly to prevent any worsening of the situation. However, there are situations that demand fleeing and no action on your part can help mitigate danger to life and property. Emergencies are of all scales and may affect a single individual to an entire population in area. For example, a person who has suffered a stroke may have to be taken to a hospital in time to get him medical care. This is a small scale emergency as it involves a single individual and perhaps his family. On the other hand, an earthquake or a tsunami that strikes without prior warning is emergency that require planning and preparedness to save lives and properties.
When it comes to defining emergencies, most experts agree that all situations posing danger to human life are regarded as emergencies, while those posing danger to environment, though serious, do not require action as quickly and swiftly as an emergency. It is important to note that some authorities do not consider it an emergency when there is an immediate danger to the life of an animal population. On the other hand, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes that have the potential to sweep across properties are included in emergencies.
There are agencies that are involved in management of emergencies and their action is divided into four categories starting from a state of preparedness to a quick response, recovery phase and then finally mitigation.
There is another emergency that is called as state of emergency which is what prompts governments to declare emergency in the state and curtail the rights of individuals. This is an extraordinary step to deal with civil unrest as people’s powers are usurped by the administration.
Any man made or natural hazard having potential to cause widespread destruction of property and human lives is considered as a disaster. To common people, a disaster is a phenomenon or event that leaves behind a trail of destruction that also claims human lives. Landslides, earthquakes, fires, explosions, volcanoes, and floods are some of the well known disasters though of late, terrorism and its related events have caused much more mayhem and destruction than natural disasters. Who can forget 9/11 and then 26/11 in India? Both of these terrorist events are regarded as no less than natural disasters as they caused a dent in human psyche apart from loss of lives and property which are common in any natural disaster.
Though, the intensity of a natural disaster may be the same, it’s after effects are felt more in developing countries than in advanced, developed nations. This is because of both higher density of populations and lesser preparedness in case of third world countries. An earthquake in a developed country causes much less destruction than a similar one in a poor country with higher density of population and with houses that have not been designed to face earthquakes.
Difference Between Emergency and Disaster
• Though both emergencies and disasters present situations that demand quick action, one can prepare for emergencies but not disasters.
• Emergency can be of a very small level involving a single person having suffered a stroke whereas disaster is on a much bigger scale and has the potential to cause large scale destruction of life and property.
• Emergencies like fire breaking out in a building can be tackled by police and fire departments working in close cooperation but disasters like floods and wildfire require prompt action by the administration on a war footing to lessen destruction of life and property.
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