Definition of Disaster Management

by Maine Word; Updated September 26, 2017
Exterior of house

Disaster managers must be confident in their function, training and capacity to ensure public safety. According to the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA), disaster management is defined as "the managerial function charged with creating the framework within which communities reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters."

Function of Disaster Management

Disaster managers consider all the variables that might occur in a given geographic area. For example, coastal communities must prepare for natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, and wind events, but they must also consider man-made disasters like chemical spills, explosions and epidemic diseases. The function of disaster managers is to evaluate risk and exposure, create response plans and ensure response capacity after an event.

Types of Disasters

Local and state emergency management agencies, the American Red Cross and public safety officials are familiar with the types and scope of relevant disasters that may affect a community based on geography, historical and weather data and population.

In the United States, every state has had tornadoes touch down, so planning for such events is often common. In contrast, many inland states do not routinely prepare for the wind and water associated with a hurricane. Each kind of natural or man-made disaster has unique planning requirements ranging from evacuation to sheltering in home/place. Power outages, water shortages and public panic must also be considered.

Response Capacity and Training

The role of disaster management officials is to determine the response capacity of local resources to various types of disasters and how various individuals and agencies will communicate during times of disaster. In addition, many communities stage disaster drills to practice the simulation of their response to an event.


The potential benefits of disaster preparedness can save lives and limit damages to property. In addition, planning allows the coordination and appropriate allocation of limited resources to best meet the needs of individuals, families and businesses. For example, planning for the wide-scale evacuation of residents during a hurricane can allow the implementation of adequate road signage, various notification mechanisms and traffic capacity evaluation.


The first time you meet the fireman should not be when your house is on fire.

This important idea should direct all disaster managers to ensure their skills, knowledge and capacity to respond to the unexpected. Regardless of the training and planning by disaster management professionals, disasters always seem to have another surprise waiting. Disaster management requires collaboration and cooperation among a variety of individuals, agencies and organizations along with an unfailing commitment to people in the community.

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