INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR RISK DISASTER REDUCTION
Every October 13th, the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction celebrates how communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters. It’s also a day to raise awareness about the importance of trying to control some of the risks communities face.
Natural disasters are catastrophic events that destroy property and cause loss of life. These types of disasters also result in economic upheaval. Because of natural disasters, millions of people are displaced each year. Any natural event that kills over ten people or injures at least 100 is considered a natural disaster. These disasters kill about 90,000 people and affect 160 million people each year. Between 1964 and 1983, natural disasters killed nearly 2.5 million people throughout the world. During this timeframe, another 750 million were injured or displaced.
Some of the most common natural disasters include earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, landslides, wildfires, and volcanic eruptions. Some of the worst natural disasters of all time were:
- Haiti Earthquake in 2010 – the 7.0 magnitude earthquake may have killed as many as 316,000 people
- Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami in 2004 – the disaster killed up to 280,000 people in 14 different countries
- Tangshan, China Earthquake in 1976 – the 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed 255,000 people and injured another 700,000.
- Bhola (East Pakistan) Cyclone in 1970 – the cyclone killed between 300,000 and 500,000 people
- The 1887 Yellow River Flood in China – the estimated death toll was 900,000 people
- Central China Floods in 1931 – this devastating disaster flooded 70,000 square miles of land, killing over 3 million people.
- Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – considered the costliest disaster ever, this hurricane caused $200 billion in damage and killed 1,200 people.
Fortunately, natural disasters as deadly as these do not occur regularly. However, scientists believe natural disasters are becoming more common. Global warming, along with rapid urbanization of flood-prone regions, are the main culprits.
Thankfully, much is being done to decrease the risk of death and injury when natural disasters occur. This includes making infrastructure more climate-resilient. This is done by using building materials that better stand up to winds, water, and earthquakes. Education on disaster preparation and what to do in the event of an emergency also help reduce death tolls. Thanks to advanced technology, the ability to predict disasters and warn the public have also been beneficial in saving lives.
HOW TO OBSERVE #DayForDisasterRiskReduction
Activities for the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction include media announcements and events that focus on natural disaster preparation. Community tree plantings and educational seminars are also held to help spread awareness.
Do you have a plan in place in the event of a natural disaster? If not, the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is the perfect time to do it. The American Red Cross says you can create an emergency plan in just three steps:
1. Discuss with your household how to prepare and respond to natural disasters that are likely to occur where you live.
2. Assign responsibilities to each household member and work as a team.
3. Practice as many parts of the plan as possible.
Ensuring that you have an emergency kit on hand and an emergency fund are also helpful. Share this day on social media with #DayForDisasterRiskReduction
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR DISASTER RISK REDUCTION HISTORY
On December 22nd, 1989, the UN designated the 2nd Wednesday of October International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction. The day was to be observed every year in conjunction with the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, 1990-1999. In 2009, the UN changed the date of the observance to October 13th. In 2019, the day was changed to the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.