A natural disaster can threaten the health of many people, depending on when, where and how severe it is.


General risks:

(1) unsafe water

(2) unsafe handling of sewage and garbage

(3) malnutrition

(4) spread of communicable diseases (due to crowding, unsafe water, etc.)

(5) exposure to temperature extremes, sun and wind

(6) lack of basic supplies

(7) hazards from damaged utilities (gas, electricity) with risk of fire and electrocution

(8) fire

(9) family and social disruption

(10) loss of refrigeration with spoilage of food and medicines

(11) loss of housing, heat and light

(12) violent crimes, including attacks on relief organizations

(13) physical trauma associated with the environmental damage (building damage, trees, debris flows, etc.)

(14) mental health of survivors, including post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety

(15) proliferation of insects and rodents


Health of vulnerable populations:

(1) loss of medical records

(2) influx of providers with limited local knowledge

(3) very young and elderly

(4) severe comorbid disease requiring mechanical support (ventilators, dialysis units, other)

(5) comorbid disease requiring medications (diabetes, asthma, etc.)

(6) scarce medical resources, with damage to health care infrastructure

(7) care of the mentally ill

(8) pregnant women


The response to a disaster requires identification of the key health problems and developing a strategy to address each one quickly.


To read more or access our algorithms and calculators, please log in or register.