Mitigation refers to measures that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or reduce the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. The mitigation phase differs from the other phases because it focuses on long-term measures for reducing or eliminating risk.
Examples of mitigation activities include establishing building codes and zoning requirements, installing shutters, and constructing barriers such as levees.
Preparedness activities increase a community’s ability to respond when a disaster occurs. In the preparedness phase, plans of action are developed for when disasters strike.
Examples of preparedness activities include developing mutual aid agreements and memorandums of understanding, training for both response personnel and concerned citizens, conducting disaster exercises to reinforce training and test capabilities, and presenting all-hazards education campaigns.
The response phase includes the mobilization of necessary emergency services and first responders in the disaster area. This would include a first wave of core emergency services, such as firefighters, police, and ambulance crews.
Examples of response actions include activating the emergency operations center, evacuating threatened populations, opening shelters, providing mass care, emergency rescue, medical care, fire fighting, and urban search and rescue.
The aim of the recovery phase is to restore the affected area to its previous state. Actions taken to return a community to normal or near-normal conditions, including the restoration of basic services and the repair of physical, social, and economic damages.
Examples of recovery actions include debris cleanup, financial assistance to individuals and governments, rebuilding roads and bridges, restoring critical infrastructure and facilities, and sustained mass care for displaced human and animal populations.