Disaster Prevention & Mitigation

Prevention and mitigation measures are the things we do to prevent an emergency from happening and, if it does, to reduce or eliminate the impact.

Potential impacts can be structural (e.g. building reinforcement, infrastructure renewal) and non-structural measures (e.g. legislation, by-laws, and codes).

The Importance of Prevention & Mitigation

There is international agreement that investment in prevention and mitigation before an emergency will reduce the cost of recovering afterwards.

  • Australia has estimated that every dollar spent on disaster mitigation saves at least three dollars in economic and social recovery.
  • The International Federation of the Red Cross has estimated that if US $40 billion had been invested in mitigation measures in the 1990s, worldwide economic losses of US $280 billion (resulting from disasters) would have been avoided.
  • The World Bank has estimated that spending 1% of a structure’s value on vulnerability reduction measures can reduce probable maximum loss from hurricanes by one third (on average).

Municipal Disaster Mitigation Measures

City By-Law 2013-142 adopted an Emergency Management Program and Emergency Plan for the City of Barrie that assigns responsibility for emergency preparedness to offices and groups, and establishes the framework how they will manage emergency situations:

Provincial Disaster Mitigation Measures

The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act requires that all municipalities and the provincial government establish emergency management programs based on hazards and risks that the community may face.

Ontario Regulation 280/04 sets the standards for the emergency management programs that municipalities must establish.

Ontario’s Critical Infrastructure Assurance Program is a collaborative process between Ontario ministries, Federal departments, communities, and representatives of the private sector. Nine sectors have been identified in which communities and provincial ministries will identify and assure critical infrastructure.

Additional provincial measures include:

  • Infrastructure investments and capital works to reduce the threat and impact of a hazard
  • Regulations and standards, such as building codes, to reduce the impact of spills, floods, etc.
  • Land use planning legislation
  • The Ministry of Transportation plans routes for the transportation of dangerous goods (TDG) on provincial roads.

Disaster Mitigation Measures Everyone Can Take

  • Strengthen building structures and roofs
  • Install fire-resistant shingles
  • Install hail-resistant shingles
  • Install hurricane shutters
  • Install shatter-resistant window film
  • Install backup power sources
  • Install indoor sprinkler systems
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Install backflow valves to prevent toilet overflows when the household sewer system is infiltrated with floodwater
  • Anchor bookshelves and cabinets to walls
  • Anchor outdoor items that can become projectiles in high winds
  • Build storm shelters or safe rooms designed to withstand high winds associated with tornadoes using specified materials to pre-engineering specifications
  • Manage vegetation by removing fire-prone dry plant material from gutters and around residences and other buildings, or trimming tree limbs that overhang roofs to avoid roof damage during high winds
  • Clear drainage ways and streams
  • Test well water
  • Ensure that your home insurance includes the hazards that pose a risk to your community