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Fact

Whether it is their capacity to evacuate in time or to recover in the long term from trauma and financial devastation, socially vulnerable people are hit hardest and longest by disasters and emergencies.

These people often have fewer resources and less social support, mobility and housing options at their disposal, and so are less able to prepare for, respond to and recover from a disaster or emergency.

Source: 'Disaster and disadvantage: Social vulnerability in emergency management', Victorian Council of Social Service, 2014.

 

Why is it important to prepare?

Emergencies can happen at any time. They are stressful, which can make it hard to think clearly about what to do. Natural disasters will probably become more frequent and severe.

Emergency service agencies will work hard to limit the impacts on people and communities, but in an emergency your clients may need to look after themselves for some time before they can get help. If they plan, prepare and practice beforehand, they will feel less stressed and make better decisions.

Emergencies can affect your clients in many ways. By helping them to be prepared, you can build their capacity to cope and recover.

Your clients are vulnerable

Some people are more vulnerable, and will feel the effects of an emergency for a long time afterwards, even if they weren't directly affected or nearby.

Four factors can make your clients more or less vulnerable in an emergency:

  • Wellbeing - including quality of life, physical and mental health.
  • Connectedness - like personal networks that can offer support, social participation, access to services, and attachment to community.
  • Security - particularly personal safety, financial capacity and access to shelter.
  • Knowledge of local risks - emergency management plans, and getting information and support in recovery.

Emergencies have many impacts

The impacts of an emergency can be physical, emotional and economic. While emergencies can affect everyone, they don't affect everyone equally.

Emergencies change lives and can leave lasting psychological effects. A loved one could be injured or killed. Losing sentimental items or pets can also be devastating. Similar events can refresh past traumas, and even people who weren't in the area when something happened can be seriously affected.

All of this should be considered when planning for emergencies.

Click on the timeline below to see how an emergency could affect your clients. If you are unable to see the interactive timeline below please go to the Impact of an emergency timeline.