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close this bookDisaster Preparedness - 2nd Edition (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1994, 66 p.)
close this folderPART 1 - Planning for disaster preparedness
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentVulnerability assessment
View the documentPlanning
View the documentInstitutional structure
View the documentInformation systems
View the documentResource base
View the documentWarning systems
View the documentResponse mechanisms
View the documentPublic education and training
View the documentRehearsals
View the documentCASE STUDY
View the documentSUMMARY

Warning systems

Disaster Preparedness Framework








Public Education
and Training


You must assume that functioning communications systems, such as telephones and telexes, may not be available in times of a major disaster. Begin to plan a warning system around that assumption. Consider what type of communications equipment will be needed and sustainable if power lines and receiving stations are destroyed. Preparedness plans should include provisions for access to alternative communication systems among police, military and government networks.

All too often, those for whom disaster warning systems are targeted have little faith in the warnings. This may be due to a human inclination to ignore what appears inconvenient at the time. It also reflects a general misunderstanding of the warning’s message, or frustration with yet another false alarm. Planners of effective warnings take into account the public perceptions of warnings, training related to reacting to warnings, as well as local conditions, attitudes and experiences.

Whenever possible, the international community should be forewarned about hazards that might lead to appeals for international assistance. The procedures for this form of warning should also be anticipated within a disaster preparedness plan.

In a report entitled “The Quantitative Evaluation of the Risk of Disaster from Tropical Cyclones,” issued by the World Meteorological Organization in 1976, the authors emphasize the connection between the capability of the forecasting service and the point at which preparedness measures should be implemented.4 It may be possible to put some measures into effect during a warning period. Others may have to be instituted at the beginning of the tropical storm season, or included in even longer-term action. An example is given, although times may vary from one country to another.

4 Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator, Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Volume 11, Preparedness Aspects, United Nations, New York, 1984, p. 31-32.

· Every 12 hours an extended projection of the storm track for periods up to 72 hours ahead should be made available by the forecasting service so that all responsible authorities are able to initiate certain preparedness measures.

· At least 36 hours ahead the forecasting service should designate the coastal sector along which a tropical storm watch should be mounted. This would also be the signal for further preparatory action to be taken.

· 12-18 hours before the tropical storm’s landfall the forecasting service should issue warnings specifying the areas concerned, the expected wind strengths and rainfall conditions, and the likely points of storm surge. The hydrological service should issue warnings in regard to river flooding and the possibility of flash floods.