Disaster management : What actually constitutes a disaster . - Plan4continuity Blog

Disaster management : What actually constitutes a disaster .


"A disaster is a sudden, calamitous event that seriously disrupts the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the community’s or society’s ability to cope using its own resources. Though often caused by nature, disasters can have human origins." The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

Disaster recovery is somewhat of a misnomer, in that the definition is a set of policies and procedures, designed to assist in the recovery of technology infrastructure. Disaster management, on the other hand, is the recovery from a natural or man-made disaster. Typically, disasters affect communities or geographic regions, although in our modern age, disasters can take on different forms. Needless to say, no matter in which geographic region or country one is in, one can be affected by disaster directly or indirectly, and one has to be prepared for it. An important part of disaster preparedness is RA (risk analysis), which is the process of identifying risks and threats.


Let’s take a look at a few disaster types and what they imply:


Insidious disasters

These disasters are hidden and almost imperceptible, most often man-made eg. poisoning of water supply.

Short term disasters

These are disasters that have a short term effect. Recovery is usually quick and disruption is minimal eg. Lightning storm.

Medium term disasters

These forms of disasters last for more than a few weeks and have a long-lasting effect on communities and are often seasonal. They can often become long-term and catastrophic. Disaster management in these cases is managed by municipalities and local authorities eg. tornado.

Long term and catastrophic disasters

These are usually disasters that happen over a prolonged period or have catastrophic effects that may be felt over years or decades. A chilling example is the Fukushima earthquake, the effects of which are still felt around the world.


Here are a few tips on how to be prepared for a disaster:


  • Always prepare ahead .
  • Always maintain, audit and enforce strict safety policies.
  • Train and educate not just employees but family and communities.
  • Volunteer with relief organizations.
  • Make sure you have a go-bad ready at home and if possible in the car.
  • Donate to relief organizations.
  • Create, develop and maintain disaster management plans.


In addition to the above, always prepare for disasters of a lesser extent such as:


  • Lightning storms: Install surge protection and lightning conductors.
  • Floods: Do regular checks on drainage and make sure that plumbing is maintained and checked often.
  • Fire: Make sure that fire systems are working and in place.
  • Evacuation plans: Create and simulate these plans regularly.


Remember also that one’s technology infrastructure can be affected by disasters. One can make one’s business more resilient to disruption by employing:


  • Virtualization: Locate ones servers and data offsite.
  • Disaster recovery planning: Use proved and intelligent cloud software so that one can work mobile if required.
  • Hot sites: Use alternate facilities that one can quickly fail-over to when ones premises is out of commision.
  • Alternative power: Invest in and research alternate power and backup power systems.


An important part of business continuity, disaster management usually deals with events that are long and lasting and which may take several years to overcome .It is often not enough just to prepare for disaster-one has to try to prevent disaster in the first place. It is essential that one creates disaster management plans that are rehearsed and simulated regularly on a system that has effective communication when disaster strikes. This can mean the difference between recovery and demise. Please keep track of ongoing articles that we will be posting on disaster management.