The UK is a small country, covering just 94,000 square miles, but that doesn’t mean the risk of natural or manmade disasters affecting our society is any less severe. On the contrary, as a nation we can be more susceptible to disruptions in key services such as communication, food supply, petrol distribution and transportation. Now more than ever it’s important for us to understand how these past events affect our society and what we can do to mitigate the potential damage from future disasters. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take today to help improve your chances of surviving an emergency situation.
Natural Disasters in the UK
Whilst the UK overall escapes from some of the worst natural disasters such as severe earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, there are parts of the UK that are higher risks due to local conditions. For example, low lying land near rivers are liable to flooding, coastal regions may be exposed to erosion, southern regions may be more exposed to the risk of droughts, and parts of northern England and Scotland can experience severe snowstorms and blizzards.
Flooding in the UK
The UK is one of the more at-risk countries in the world when it comes to flooding. In some areas, including parts of the Thames Valley, there is a risk of flooding almost every year. Flooding is caused by excessive amounts of water building up in low-lying areas and overwhelming drainage systems, such as rivers and waterways. The UK’s densely populated cities and towns, combined with climate change and increasingly heavy rainfall, has led to a rise in flooding incidents. To mitigate the consequences of flooding, the government recommends that people living in flood-prone areas consider taking out insurance to cover damage to their homes and possessions.
Earthquakes in the UK
The UK is not a seismically active country, which means the risk of earthquakes is relatively low, but they can occur and pose a significant threat to our society. The largest earthquake ever recorded in the UK was a 6.3 magnitude event that happened in the North Sea in 1931. Fortunately, it was too deep to cause any casualties or damage to the UK’s coastal towns and cities. However, if a similar earthquake were to occur in a city, it would have the potential to cause significant damage.
Wildfires in the UK
Wildfires in the UK’s rural areas, only typically occur during the summer months if the season has been uncharacteristically dry. As of August 2022 the UK has experienced over 750 wildfires in the year to date, according to the Forestry Commission. Whilst this is significantly higher than previous years, climate change is likely to increase the probability of wildfires becoming a more challenging problem in years to come. To reduce the risk of wildfires affecting your home, the government recommends keeping vegetation away from your property, clearing out dead wood and grass, and keeping barbecue areas clean.
What should go in an emergency kit
Emergencies can happen at any time, and you can never be too prepared. Having an emergency kit that you can easily access will help you to prepare for the unexpected. You’ll need to make sure that your kit is tailored to your specific situation, so think about your home, family, and pets. Some items you should consider putting in an emergency kit include: water, survival food, batteries, a torch, a first-aid kit, a radio, a change of clothing, a change of footwear, and a bag for keeping everything together.
Natural disasters can occur in any country at any time, and the UK is no different. There is no way to predict when a disaster will strike, and no way to prepare for every situation. However, there are some simple steps you can take today to help improve your chances of surviving an emergency situation. It’s important to understand how these events affect our society and what we can do to mitigate the potential damage from future disasters.