Hazards 1


A hazard is something that's a potential threat to human life or property.

Natural hazards are caused by natural processes.

Natural hazards can be divided into three types:

  • Geophysical hazards (caused by land processes) - these include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides and tsunamis.
  • Atmospheric hazards (caused by climatic processes) - include tropical cyclones, storms, droughts, extremes of hot or cold weather and wildfires.
  • Hydrological hazards (caused by water movement) - these include floods and avalanches.

A disaster is when a hazard actually serviously affects humans.

A risk is the likelihood that humans will be seriously affected by a hazard.

Vulnerability is how susceptible a population is to the damage caused by a hazard.

Hazards can have significant impacts while they are occurring, and often need an emergency response. The impacts can also go on for a long time after the hazard itself has passed.

People's circumstances affect their perceptions of hazards:

People view hazards in different ways, e.g. some peope believe they will never experience a particular hazard, others adapt their lifestyle to minimise risk, and others accept hazards as being beyond their control.

People's perception of hazards is affected by their economic, social and cultural background. For example:

  • Wealth, e.g. richer people may be able to afford to move to areas that are less prone to hazards, or to build their homes to withstand hazards, so they may perceive the risk as smaller.
  • Religion, e.g. some people view hazards as acts of God, sent to punish people.
  • Education, e.g. people with more education may have a better understanding of the…


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