Disasters come in many forms. Natural disasters kill one million people around the world each decade, and leave millions more homeless.

Natural disasters may include earthquakes, floods and flash-floods, landslides and mud flows, wild land fires, winter storms, and others. Technological disasters include house and building fires, hazardous materials, terrorism, and nuclear power plant emergencies.

It is estimated that the economic damages from natural disasters have tripled in the past 30 years - rising from 40 billion dollars in the 1960s to 120 billion dollars in the 1980s. Some of the more recent natural disasters have by themselves caused billion dollar losses.

The key to minimizing or controlling the cost and death toll of disasters is prevention. This is not to say that we can prevent natural disasters but we can minimize their effects. What this course shows is how we can evaluate, prepare for, react to, and minimize damage brought on by emergencies and disasters.

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