Mitigation refers to measures that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or reduce the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Typical mitigation measures 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. Typical preparedness measures 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.
Response includes actions carried out immediately before, during, and immediately after a hazard impact, which are aimed at saving lives, reducing economic losses, and alleviating suffering. Response actions may include activating the emergency operations center, evacuating threatened populations, opening shelters and providing mass care, emergency rescue and medical care, fire fighting, and urban search and rescue.
Recovery involves the 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. Typical recovery actions include debris cleanup, financial assistance to individuals and governments, rebuilding of roads and bridges and key facilities, and sustained mass care for displaced human and animal populations.