4. Disaster Responses

The following table categorizes some disasters and notes first response initiatives.

Natural and Man Made Disasters

ExampleProfileFirst response
AvalancheThe sudden, drastic flow of snow down a slope, occurring when either natural triggers, such as loading from new snow or rain, or artificial triggers, such as explosives or backcountry skiers, overload the snowpackShut off utilities; Evacuate building if necessary; Determine impact on the equipment and facilities and any disruption
BlizzardA severe snowstorm characterized by very strong winds and low temperaturesPower off all equipment; listen to blizzard advisories; Evacuate area, if unsafe; Assess damage
EarthquakeThe shaking of the earth’s crust, caused by underground volcanic forces of breaking and shifting rock beneath the earth’s surfaceShut off utilities; Evacuate building if necessary; Determine impact on the equipment and facilities and any disruption
Fire (wild)Fires that originate in uninhabited areas and which pose the risk to spread to inhabited areasAttempt to suppress fire in early stages; Evacuate personnel on alarm, as necessary; Notify fire department; Shut off utilities; Monitor weather advisories
FloodFlash flooding: Small creeks, gullies, dry streambeds, ravines, culverts or even low-lying areas flood quicklyMonitor flood advisories; Determine flood potential to facilities; Pre-stage emergency power generating equipment; Assess damage
Freezing rainRain occurring when outside surface temperature is below freezingMonitor weather advisories; arrange for snow and ice removal
Heat waveA prolonged period of excessively hot weather relative to the usual weather pattern of an area and relative to normal temperatures for the seasonListen to weather advisories; Power-off all servers after a graceful shutdown if there is imminent potential of power failure; Shut down main electric circuit usually located in the basement or the first floor
HurricaneHeavy rains and high windsPower off all equipment; listen to hurricane advisories; Evacuate area, if flooding is possible; Check gas, water and electrical lines for damage; Do not use telephones, in the event of severe lightning; Assess damage
LandslideGeological phenomenon which includes a range of ground movement, such as rock falls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flowsShut off utilities; Evacuate building if necessary; Determine impact on the equipment and facilities and any disruption
Lightning strikeAn electrical discharge caused by lightning, typically during thunderstormsPower off all equipment; listen to hurricane advisories; Evacuate area, if flooding is possible; Check gas, water and electrical lines for damage; Do not use telephones, in the event of severe lightning; Assess damage
Limnic eruptionThe sudden eruption of carbon dioxide from deep lake waterShut off utilities; Evacuate building if necessary; Determine impact on the equipment and facilities and any disruption
TornadoViolent rotating columns of air which descend from severe thunderstorm cloud systemsMonitor tornado advisories; Power off equipment; Shut off utilities (power and gas); Assess damage once storm passes
TsunamiA series of waves hitting shores strongly, mainly caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake, usually caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, underwater explosions, landslides, glacier calvings, meteorite impacts and other disturbances above or below waterPower off all equipment; listen to tsunami advisories; Evacuate area, if flooding is possible; Check gas, water and electrical lines for damage; Assess damage
Volcanic eruptionThe release of hot magma, volcanic ash and/or gases from a volcanoShut off utilities; Evacuate building if necessary; Determine impact on the equipment and facilities and any disruption






BioterrorismThe intentional release or dissemination of biological agents as a means of coercionGet information immediately from public health officials via the news media as to the right course of action; If you think you have been exposed, quickly remove your clothing and wash off your skin; put on a HEPA to help prevent inhalation of the agent
Civil unrestA disturbance caused by a group of people that may include sit-ins and other forms of obstructions, riots, sabotage and other forms of crime, and which is intended to be a demonstration to the public and the government, but can escalate into general chaosContact local police or law enforcement
Fire (urban)Even with strict building fire codes, people still perish needlessly in firesAttempt to suppress fire in early stages; Evacuate personnel on alarm, as necessary; Notify fire department; Shut off utilities; Monitor weather advisories
Hazardous material spillsThe escape of solids, liquids, or gases that can harm people, other living organisms, property or the environment, from their intended controlled environment such as a container.Leave the area and call the local fire department for help. If anyone was affected by the spill, call the your local Emergency Medical Services line
Nuclear and radiation accidentsAn event involving significant release of radioactivity to the environment or a reactor core meltdown and which leads to major undesirable consequences to people, the environment, or the facilityRecognize that a CBRN incident has or may occur. Gather, assess and disseminate all available information to first responders. Establish an overview of the affected area. Provide and obtain regular updates to and from first responders.
Power failureCaused by summer or winter storms, lightning or construction equipment digging in the wrong locationWait 5–10 minutes; power off all servers after a graceful shutdown; do not use telephones, in the event of severe lightning; shut down main electric circuit usually located in the basement or the first floor
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