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Mitigation is the steps one takes to avoid or minimise negative environmental impacts, such as those that are potentially suffered in hurricanes and earthquakes.

At the heart of mitigation lies disaster prevention and preparedness, as these are far better options than disaster response. Responding to a disaster alone yields only temporary relief at a very high cost, while prevention contributes to lasting and comprehensive improvement in safety. It also aids the recovery process, letting people get on with their lives sooner.

For meaningful mitigation one needs to identify the vulnerable areas of one's surroundings in relation to natural hazards such as earthquakes, cyclones, floods, and fires. Be informed as to the potential each may bring with respect to damaging your home and surrounding infrastructure.

When you know what to expect, you can plan properly. On the other hand, being unprepared could mean at the very least discomfort. When you expect power outages, you will know to have a gas stove or generator ready. If you know there will be a need for medical supplies, you can stock up.

Although hurricanes are the primary natural disaster on our minds here in the Caribbean, it is important that you also include other possible disasters when determining your level of vulnerability. For instance, when building or rebuilding, take into account the structure's resistance to seismic activity (in case of an earthquake) as well as possible fires and flooding.

Proper mitigation calls for a comprehensive approach to disaster preparedness. Preparing for the unknown will leave you with peace of mind, replacing anxious speculation with calm vigilance.

Last Updated: 2010-08-15