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About Disasters

Types of Disasters

Durham Region is vulnerable to a wide range of potential emergency situations. Some of these emergencies happen frequently with localized impacts (e.g. fires, chemical spills) while others are rare but could have severe consequences on the population and the environment (e.g. ice storm). Large-scale emergencies occur very rarely but we must always be prepared. In general, disasters or emergencies can be categorized into two groupings:

  • Severe stormNatural-caused
    Natural hazards are those related to climate change, naturally occurring elements and conditions including severe weather, but not limited to floods, ice and snow storms.

  • Human-caused
    Human-caused hazards are accidental and include chemical spills, explosions and leaks, train derailments, plane crashes, public transit crashes, multi-car pileups and power outages.
    Technological emergencies are also human-caused and can affect critical infrastructure, computer technology, telecommunications and other information technology issues.

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA)

The Region has a number of situations that present potential hazards to residents. DEMO has completed a hazard analysis and risk assessment, with all hazards identified relative to risk.

Mass casualty event on Hwy. 401The top hazards by rank, relative to risk, for the Region can be grouped into three major categories:

  1. Severe weather (major winter storm, high winds, flooding, etc.).
  2. Hazardous materials release (toxic spill/gas) either at a site or as the result of a transportation accident.
  3. Mass casualty event such as a train derailment, major accident on the 401 and 35/115 highways or a major building fire.

Durham Region must not only plan and prepare for current hazards but also plan and prepare for hazards that will increase in risk due to a number of reasons. Evolving hazards in Durham Region include, but are not limited to:

  • Train derailmentIndustry expansion in lakeshore communities.
  • Hwy. 407 extension (increased transportation of dangerous goods).
  • Climate change.
  • Influenza pandemic.
  • Terrorism, including bio-terrorism.
  • Computer viruses.
  • Power outages.
  • Water contamination.

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