2Natural disasters and emergency response

What is a natural disaster?


Mother nature is still the strongest force out there.  As opposed to accidents caused by humans, the threat of natural disasters depends on the climate of each particular place. Some of the most common emergency situations include floods, storms, bushfires and earthquakes.


Floods and Storms

Lightning Bolts


It is important for you to know what to do in case of a natural disaster, to keep yourself and those in your care safe and sound!


Floods usually occur after a heavy rain storm, when the ground can’t absorb the rainwater quickly enough.  Rivers, lakes and dams can overflow, causing large amounts of water to rush out. The most important thing to remember in the case of a flood is to SEEK HIGHER GROUND as water will always flow downhill.

In the event of a flood ….

  • Be prepared to evacuate if advised by authorities
  • If you are likely to become isolated, make sure that you have enough food, water, medication and pet food, and be aware that you may need to live without power, water and sewerage
  • Raise belongings by placing them on tables, beds and benches, or move them to higher ground
  • Block toilets, household drains, sinks and plugs to stop sewerage backflow
  • Floodwater is dangerous – never drive, walk or ride through floodwater
  • Floodwater is toxic – never play or swim in floodwater


In addition to rain, storms often include lightning, hail and heavy winds, and sometimes even tornadoes.  To avoid injury, take the following precautions:

  • Stay clear of windows, doors and skylights
  • Remain with children in the most protected and solid part of the house such as a hallway, built in wardrobe or internal room
  • Try to avoid using any electrical appliances
  • Keep in touch with updates by listening to the radio or media for warnings, updates and advice



Some regions are more prone to earthquakes than others. In the event of an earthquake, you are unlikely to have warning, so it is important to know what to do.

Most important to remember is…

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, protect your head with your arms and a pillow if one is available.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes.
  • Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Do not use a doorway unless you know it is strongly supported. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • DO NOT use elevators.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

Keeping kids safe in the snow




ca. 2000, Easter Island, Chile --- Tree Burning in a Forest Fire --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Also known as forest or bush fires, wildfires are very dangerous, although some regions are more prone than others. If you are living with a host family in the country, you will likely be at more risk than in an urban city setting.

Wildfires often start on hot, dry and windy days.

Wildfires can occur on coastland, forests, grasslands and even suburban areas.

Grass, trees, and coastal scrub are all flammable, and can spread fire to homes and other buildings.

Wildfires tend to spread uphill as heat rises, so it is wise to stay downhill and downwind  from a fire.

Know your weather conditions

fire danger today

  • Fire danger increases when the weather is hot and dry.
  • Wind can quickly spread a fire to a large area by carrying embers a long distance.
  • Stay updated on fire warnings and restrictions through your local emergency services website or information telephone line.
  • In an emergency, always call for help



What if there is a wildfire near me?

The best plan of action is to evacuate early to avoid the possibility of being in a dangerous fire.

The main cause of death in wildfires is radiant heat, so shelter is essential.

Be sure to cover up as much exposed skin as possible to avoid burns.

 The best options for a last-resort shelter are:

  • A stationary car in a cleared area
  • A ploughed paddock or field
  • A body of water (beach, pool, dam, river)

Check out this link for emergency telephone numbers from around the world:



So most importantly, remember in the event of a natural disaster:

Stay informed – watch television or listen to the radio for weather and emergency information

Call your local emergency service for help and instructions in the case of an emergency

Act Quickly – conditions can change rapidly