What Is a Disaster: Guide to What to Do When a Natural Disaster Strikes

Disasters occur every day somewhere in the world. These events vary in scope and intensity and can be detrimental to the people affected.

The biggest problem that most people face is that they aren’t prepared to deal with these catastrophes.

It’s important to know what is a disaster and how it can lead to changes in your life.

Check out this guide on what to do in case a disaster occurs where you are.

What Is a Disaster?

Unfortunate situations happen all the time, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a disaster. So, you may be wondering “what is a disaster”?

A disaster is a great misfortune or catastrophic event that occurs in an unexpected timing and significantly affect the life of the people in the community. It can affect the material, economic, environmental, and human resources beyond society’s ability to cope using their resources.

How to Prepare for a Disaster

Now that we’ve answered ‘what is a disaster’, it’s crucial that we understand how we can be prepared to cope with these events easier if and when they do happen. It’s important to keep in mind that disasters can be very random and just because one hasn’t happened in your area yet, doesn’t mean it can’t.

Here are some ways you can prepare to deal with a disaster.

  1. Have an Emergency Plan

Sit down with your family and discuss the disasters that are likely to happen in your area. Decide how you’ll cope with each scenario. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has tools that can help you come up with a disaster preparedness plan.

  1. Learn Safe Exit Routes

It’s vital that you know the safest routes to exit your home or your town if anything goes wrong. Make sure you visit your local officials to ask about this or research online.

  1. Make an Emergency Kit

In an easy-to-carry bag or tote, pack a few of these essentials that you might not be able to survive without. Here are of the things that you may want include:

  • Important documents. These include photo identification, birth states, spare checks, medical cards

  • Other supplies. Spare keys, prescription medications, non-perishable food (including pet food), prescription medications, extra cash, a first aid kit, flashlights, blankets, matches, and a change of clothes.

  1. Keep Your Gas Tank Filled

Since you’ll need your automobile to evacuate, it’s always great to have your tank refilled when it dips below half. Also, invest in a gas can for refills when you can’t make it to a station.

  1. Train Your Family Members

Everyone in your family should know the answer to ‘what is a disaster?’ equally.

Share your disaster coping plan with your family members, assign each of them a duty, and practice the entire seen. Being prepared can eliminate unnecessary mishaps.

  1. Have a Disaster Recovery Plan 

No one is immune from disaster. It’s important for you to create a plan on how you’d get back on your feet afterward. This reduces the frustrations that come with losing all your belongings.

Think about how you will restabilize basic necessities, such as money, shelter, food, and transportation.

Different Types of Disasters

All disasters aren’t created the same. There are different things you can do in the event of a devastating situation but you have to know what’s appropriate.

Here are some examples of common disasters and important things you should consider.


Most injuries and deaths during earthquakes are from falling objects and collapsing walls. Your aim should be to protect yourself and your family from personal injury.

Here’s how:

  • Anchor/Nail down furniture

  • Stay away from tall buildings (outdoors)

  • Move away from hanging windows, shelves, or anything loose


In case an explosion happens in your building, get under your desk and exit as soon as you get a chance. Do not use an elevator during an explosion. Also, be careful of hot doors, as their might be fire on the other side.

Fire Evacuation

Have a plan with your family on several exit points they can use during a fire. If you live in a multi-level apartment, get ladders that you can use to exit the house when in the upper rooms.

As much as the loss of property is brutal, don’t go back to collect valuables during a fire. Contact emergency services once you’re out.


Floods can sometimes be a little predictable for example, flash floods can occur in regions where it hasn’t been raining. If there is heavy rain that you suspect might lead to flooding, turn on your radio or tv for updates. Meanwhile, try to take your valuables to higher ground. Do not hesitate to evacuate if instructed.

If you’re driving, don’t drive on grounds where you can’t see the bottom and stay away from bodies of water.


Be prepared with items you can use to cover your windows and doors if you live near coastal regions. Also, secure your outdoor items, as strong winds can carry things away. Turn on your radio or local TV to stay updated and pay attention to evacuation instructions.

Before leaving, try to turn off any lights, gas, and water in the home.


Take shelter in a basement or any interior part of your house.  Stay away from doors, windows, and walls, as tornadoes also come with strong winds. If you’re outside, lie in a low location and find something anchored to the ground to hold onto.

Learn About Preparing for Disasters

A disaster can happen to anyone. It’s important to be able to identify what is a disaster and learn how to act to prevent injuries and other tragedies as much as possible.

You can save your life and others by learning this information and being prepared beforehand. It’s best to try not to panic and focus on safety and practical solutions.

For more tips and advice, check out other articles in our blog section.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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