The Need for a National Strategy to Assess and Reduce Disaster-Related Mortality in the United States

Citation: Keim M, Kirsch T, Alleyne O, Benjamin G, DeGutis L, Dyjack D, Burkle F. “The Need for a National Strategy to Assess and Reduce Disaster-Related Mortality in the United States.” , AJPH. 109(4), pp. 539–540.

As the beginning of the 20th century heralded the promise of new technologies, there also came a sobering recognition of the serious health risk associated with these changes to our environment.

Today, our environment is again changing. The United States is again experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of disasters—this time from nature.1 The incidence of extreme weather disasters is increasing much more rapidly than all other categories of disasters.1 However,

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Small islands are the canaries in the climate-crisis coal mine

12 years years ago next month, a wave of water just eight inches high rolled across much of a low-lying atoll located in the South Pacific — and disappeared. No big deal? No – it was, in fact, a big deal.

The salt water poisoned the islanders’ gardens. It killed their breadfruit trees, a major source of carbohydrate. It sank into the aquifer and turned well water brackish. Over the next six to eight weeks, food supplies became tenuous. That’s when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta sent me to the Pacific to see what was going on. 

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What happened in Sendai? (and how did you miss it?)

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By Amanda Thuy-An Nguyen,  2017 MPH Candidate, Emory University   May 2, 2017

 In 2015, the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction took place in Sendai, Japan.

The outcome of the five-day conference is a new global agreement to manage disaster risk worldwide – the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030……

and most Americans have never even heard of it!

 

The Sendai Framework strives to “substantially reduce disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods, and health and in the economic,

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The Road to Sendai (and a safer world)

By Amanda Thuy-An Nguyen,  2017 MPH Candidate, Emory University   April 19, 2017

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“The Road to Sendai” is a three-part blog series exploring the global disaster reduction movement and the triad of disaster risk reduction, climate change, and sustainable development.  

The road begins in Rio…

United Nations Agenda 21 was the beginning of the road to Sendai. Agenda 21 was the product of the Earth Summit, also known as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It called for the integration of environment and development concerns on a global scale as the world was transitioning into the 21st century [1].

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Where is YOUR White Helmet?

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Henry Dunant kneels in a field in Solferino. Overcome with emotion, he has witnessed for the first time in his life the horrific, stark reality of newly-modernized, industrial warfare, coming of age in 1859.

Thousands of bodies lay piled haphazardly on top of each other, many still alive, suffering not only from their festering wounds but also an even more cruel thirst as there is no water or care for any of them. The dead and wounded are looted… giving up their boots, their coats and treasured mementos from home. Even the horses suffer without water and many are euthanized.

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How do people die in disasters and what can be done?

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A short paper to support the International Day for Disaster Reduction 2016: “Live to Tell”

During the past 50 years (1966-2015) 20,533 disasters caused an estimated 4.5 million deaths worldwide. Natural hazards caused 62% of these disasters and 38% were human-induced. [1] We are reminded that, sadly, most disasters (and disaster deaths) that could happen have not happened yet. (GAR 2015, p54.)[2] This paper describes disaster mortality and what measures can be taken to reduce the mortality from future hazardous events, including disasters.

Definitions

Disaster-related mortality is defined as those deaths occurring where the immediate or the underlying cause(s) occur as a result of exposure to a natural or human-induced hazard.

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5 Most Common (and Most Dangerous) Disaster Myths

Mark Keim Blog

These five disaster myths have been so persistent over time they have been called the “ultimate disaster survivors.”

  • How many of these myths have you heard?
  • How many do you (gulp…) still believe?

5 DISASTER MYTHS

  1. Disasters cause epidemics
  2. The local population is helpless and waiting for aid
  3. Disasters bring out the worst in people
  4. Most disaster deaths occur when rescue is available
  5. Things are back to normal in a few weeks

Near the start of my career at the CDC,

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When camping saves your life…

Mark Keim Blog

People often ask me, “What’s the single most effective thing that I can do right now to prevent myself from being killed in a disaster?”   I say, “Go camping”! … And I’m not joking.

Why is that? Why do I say, “Camping is the single most important disaster drill that Americans could undertake”? It’s because, disasters (like the old real estate adage) are “all about location, location, location”. It is most often because of our location at the time that we are exposed to dangerous hazards during a disaster. In hurricanes and floods, the most dangerous hazard is that of deep,

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Why you can’t rely on rescue

Mark Keim WHY YOU CAN’T RELY ON RESCUE

When it comes to disasters, rescue is nearly always “too little and too late”.

Though many people are surprised to hear this, it remains a proven fact, time after time. This occurs due to a variety of factors, including the very nature of some disasters. It’s also caused by a set of very human factors as well. In this blog, I’ll share with you, the very real reason why disaster response doesn’t work, even in the most affluent societies on earth. There are three main sources of medical care available to the victims injured by disasters: local, national and international.

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It’s time to stop complaining about the weather…(and do something about it)

Mark Keim Blog

The number of disasters is increasing worldwide.

During the past five decades (1964-2013), nearly 20 thousand environmental disasters (not to include epidemics, wars, and conflict-related famines) were reported to have killed 5.4 million people worldwide, affected 7 billion lives and resulted in property damage exceeding 2.7 billion US dollars. Environmental disasters comprised 93% (natural disasters, 53%; and technological disasters, 40%) of the world’s disasters declared during that time as compared to 7% caused by all the world’s biological disasters (pandemics, epidemics and outbreaks).

In general, weather-related disasters are, by far, the most frequent disaster occurrences in the world,

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