Awareness, education, preparedness, and prediction and warning systems can all help to lessen the devastation caused by a natural catastrophe. However, mitigation procedures such as zoning, land-use policies, and construction rules are required to prevent or lessen real harm from dangers. For example, if security guards were present at all times on school grounds, then the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut would have been prevented.
Additionally, mitigation measures may be used to reduce the risk of damage from foreseeable hazards such as flooding, fire, and windstorms. For example, building codes require fire escapes on public buildings to reduce the risk of death or injury from fires. Similarly, zoning laws require the presence of fire walls between different uses of property to reduce the risk of spreading flames from one area to another.
Finally, mitigation measures may be taken to reduce the impact of unforeseeable hazards such as toxic chemicals released into the environment by industrial accidents. For example, emergency planning guidelines published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency recommend that communities create emergency response plans for chemical releases like those that occurred in Anniston, Alabama and Bhopal, India because this reduces the risk of further harm if another incident occurs.
In conclusion, mitigation is defined as the prevention or reduction of damage as a result of something undesirable happening.
Communities develop and implement hazard mitigation plans with the primary goal of recognizing, assessing, and minimizing the long-term risk to life and property from hazard occurrences. Effective mitigation planning has the potential to halt the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and re-damage.
The American Red Cross believes that the following five steps should form the basis of any effective community mitigation plan:
1 Identify threats to life and property within the community. These may include natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes, but also include other hazards such as arson or violence. Understand that not all threats are created equal - some are more likely than others to result in loss of life or severe property damage. It is important to prioritize these threats based on how likely they are to occur and what impact they would have if they did. For example, if your community is at risk of flooding, it might make sense to focus limited resources on protecting homes and businesses along the most at-risk streets first.
2 Assess current hazards. Before you can effectively address risks to life and property within your community, you need to understand what threats exist now and how serious they are. This means visiting areas likely to experience damage from various hazards (e.g., floodplains, high-risk streets, etc.) and observing their current conditions.
Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and storms are unavoidable. However, there are still ways to mitigate the effects of natural disasters. For example, people should not live in at-risk areas and should take appropriate measures to protect their homes and businesses if they do. Also, it is important that people have a survival plan in case of an emergency.
The threat of violence in schools is another unavoidable hazard. In fact, violence in schools is the number one cause of death for young people. However, violence can be prevented by developing effective school safety programs that include security measures such as armed guards and metal detectors.
Hazardous materials such as chemicals used in industry and pesticides found in agriculture produce adverse effects on humans who are exposed to them directly or indirectly. However, hazardous materials can also provide opportunities for innovation when handled properly. For example, chemical companies use toxic substances in research labs to find cures for disease; this effort has led to many breakthroughs that have improved human health.
Undesirable social conditions such as poverty, crime, drug abuse, and gang violence are unavoidable because they reflect underlying societal issues rather than individual faults. However, these conditions can be avoided or reduced if we take action now.