- Active Shooter
- An individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.
- A smaller earthquake that follows a larger earthquake, occurring in the same area as the main shock.
- Air Quality Index (AQI)
- A measure of air quality indicating how clean or polluted the air is in a given area.
- Amber Alert
- An emergency alert system that broadcasts information about a missing child to the public.
- American Red Cross
- A humanitarian organization consisting of volunteers that provides disaster relief to victims and assists people in preparing for and responding to emergencies. The American Red Cross operates in accordance with its Congressional Charter and the Principles of the International Red Cross Movement.
- Animal Sheltering
- The process of providing temporary housing and care for animals in the event of an emergency or disaster.
- A hostile action taken against the United States by foreign forces or terrorists, resulting in the destruction or damage to military targets, injury or death to the civilian population, or damage or destruction to public and private property.
- Biological Hazard
- A hazard caused by exposure to infectious agents, such as bacteria, viruses, or toxins.
- A complete loss of electrical power in a given area.
- A written or computerized list of actions to be taken by an individual or organization, intended to aid memory rather than provide detailed instruction.
- Chemical Hazard
- A hazard caused by exposure to harmful chemicals, such as toxic gases or hazardous waste.
- Chief Executive Official
- An official of the community who is responsible for implementing and administering laws, ordinances, and regulations for the community. This official may hold the position of mayor, city manager, or other similar role.
- Civil Defense
- The organization and preparation of civilian resources and services to minimize the effects of enemy attack, natural disasters, or other emergencies.
- Civil Emergency
- A situation in which the normal functioning of a community is disrupted due to a natural disaster, man-made event, or other emergency.
- A political entity that has the authority to adopt and enforce laws and ordinances for the area under its jurisdiction. Communities can be incorporated towns, cities, townships, villages, or unincorporated areas of a county. However, each state defines its own political subdivisions and forms of government.
- Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
- A group of trained volunteers who assist in emergency response efforts in their community.
- The undesirable deposition of a chemical, biological, or radiological material on the surface of structures, areas, objects, or people.
- Crisis Communication
- The process of communicating information to the public during an emergency or crisis situation.
- Critical Infrastructure
- The systems and facilities that are essential to the functioning of a society, such as power grids, communication networks, and transportation systems.
- A rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center and strong winds, such as a hurricane or typhoon.
- A barrier constructed across a watercourse for the purpose of impounding, controlling, or diverting the flow of water.
- Damage Assessment
- The process used to appraise or determine the number of injuries and deaths, damage to public and private property, and the status of key facilities and services such as hospitals, health care facilities, fire and police stations, communications networks, water and sanitation systems, utilities, and transportation networks resulting from a man-made or natural disaster.
- Debris Removal
- The process of removing debris, such as fallen trees, rubble, and other materials, from public areas after a disaster.
- Decontamination refers to the process of reducing or eliminating chemical, biological, or radiological materials from surfaces, areas, objects, or people.
- Digital Disaster
- The disruption of digital communication networks and systems during an emergency or disaster.
- A disaster can be a natural catastrophe, technological accident, or human-caused event that results in severe property damage, deaths, and/or multiple injuries. A “large-scale disaster” is one that exceeds the response capability of the local jurisdiction and requires state and potentially federal involvement. The Stafford Act defines a “major disaster” as “any natural catastrophe[…] or, regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion, in any part of the United States, which in the determination of the President causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance under [the] Act to supplement the efforts and available resources or States, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby.”
- Disaster Declaration
- The official recognition by a government entity that a disaster has occurred and that emergency resources are needed to respond.
- Disaster Field Office
- The Disaster Field Office (DFO) is an office established in or near the designated area of a Presidentially declared major disaster to support federal and state response and recovery operations. The DFO houses the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) and Emergency Response Team (ERT), and where possible, the State Coordinating Officer (SCO) and support staff.
- Disaster Recovery Center
- Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are places established in the area of a Presidentially declared major disaster to provide victims with the opportunity to apply in person for assistance and/or obtain information relating to that assistance. DRCs are staffed by local, state, and federal agency representatives, as well as staff from volunteer organizations such as the American Red Cross (ARC).
- Disaster Relief
- The provision of emergency aid and assistance to people affected by a disaster.
- Dose (Radiation)
- Dose is a general term indicating the quantity (total or accumulated) of ionizing radiation or energy absorbed by a person or animal.
- Dose Rate
- Dose rate is the amount of ionizing radiation an individual would absorb per unit of time.
- A dosimeter is an instrument used for measuring and registering the total accumulated exposure to ionizing radiation.
- A prolonged period of dry weather that can lead to water shortages and crop damage.
- An earthquake is a sudden motion or trembling of the ground produced by abrupt displacement of rock masses, usually within the upper 10 to 20 miles of the earth’s surface.
- Electromagnetic Pulse
- An electromagnetic pulse is a sharp pulse of energy radiated instantaneously by a nuclear detonation, which may affect or damage electronic components and equipment.
- Any occurrence that demands action to protect public health, safety, and property, such as a natural disaster, technological accident, or human-caused event.
- Emergency Alert System
- A digital technology system authorized by the Federal Communication Commission that uses broadcast stations and facilities to transmit emergency information to the public before, during, and after disasters.
- Emergency Broadcast System
- A system used to transmit emergency information to the public through radio and television broadcasts.
- Emergency Environmental Health Services
- Services that address environmental health effects on humans, such as inspection for food and water contamination, vector control, sanitation inspection, and clean-up and disposal of hazardous materials.
- Emergency Health Services
- Services that prevent and treat the damaging health effects of an emergency, including communicable disease control, immunization, first aid, and public health information.
- Emergency Management
- The process of preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies and disasters.
- Emergency Medical Services
- Services that provide proper medical care for the sick and injured from the time of injury to the time of disposition, including medical disposition within a hospital, temporary medical facility, or special care facility.
- Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
- A trained medical professional who provides emergency medical care to people in need.
- Emergency Mortuary Services
- Services that ensure adequate death investigation, identification, and disposition of bodies, including removal, temporary storage, and transportation of bodies to temporary morgue facilities, notification of next of kin, and coordination of mortuary services and burial.
- Emergency Operating Center
- The Emergency Operating Center is a secure location where civil government officials at the state and local levels coordinate, monitor, and direct emergency response activities during a disaster.
- Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
- A centralized facility used to coordinate emergency response efforts.
- Emergency Operations Plan
- The Emergency Operations Plan is a comprehensive document that outlines how people and property will be protected in disaster and disaster threat situations. It details who is responsible for carrying out specific actions, identifies the personnel, equipment, facilities, supplies, and other resources available for use in the disaster, and outlines how all actions will be coordinated.
- Emergency Planning Zones
- Emergency Planning Zones are areas around a facility for which planning is needed to ensure prompt and effective actions are taken to protect the health and safety of the public if an accident occurs. The REP Program and CSEPP use the EPZ concept.
- Emergency Preparedness
- The process of preparing individuals, families, and communities to respond to emergencies and disasters.
- Emergency Response
- The immediate actions taken to address an emergency or disaster.
- Emergency Response Team
- The Emergency Response Team is an interagency team consisting of the lead representative from each Federal department or agency assigned primary responsibility for an ESF and key members of the FCO’s staff. It is formed to assist the FCO in carrying out his/her coordination responsibilities. The ERT may be expanded by the FCO to include designated representatives of other Federal departments and agencies as needed. The ERT usually consists of regional-level staff.
- Emergency Response Team Advance Element
- The Emergency Response Team Advance Element is the portion of the ERT that is first deployed to the field to respond to a disaster incident. For Federal disaster response and recovery activities under the Stafford Act, the ERT-A is the nucleus of the full ERT.
- Emergency Response Team National
- The Emergency Response Team National is an ERT that has been established and rostered for deployment to catastrophic disasters where the resources of the FEMA Region have been, or are expected to be, overwhelmed. Three ERT-Ns have been established.
- Emergency Services
- The various services, such as police, fire, and medical services, that respond to emergencies and disasters.
- Emergency Support Function
- In the FRP, Emergency Support Function is a functional area of response activity established to facilitate the delivery of Federal assistance required during the immediate response phase of a disaster to save lives, protect property and public health, and to maintain public safety. ESFs represent those types of Federal assistance which the State will most likely need because of the impact of a catastrophic or significant disaster on its own resources and response capabilities, or because of the specialized or unique nature of the assistance required. ESF missions are designed to supplement State and local response efforts.
- Emergency Support Team
- The Emergency Support Team is an interagency group operating from FEMA headquarters. The EST oversees the national-level response support effort under the FRP and coordinates activities with the ESF primary and support agencies in supporting Federal requirements in the field.
- Evacuation is an organized, phased, and supervised dispersal of people from dangerous or potentially dangerous areas.
- Evacuation Center
- A designated location where people can go to seek shelter during an emergency or disaster.
- Individuals who have been removed or are moving from areas that are threatened or have been struck by a disaster.
- Exposure (Radiological)
- A measurement of gamma or x-ray radiation at a specific location based on its capacity to generate ionization in the air.
- Exposure Rate (Radiological)
- The amount of ionizing radiation that an individual would be exposed to or receive per unit of time.
- Family Emergency Plan
- A plan developed by families to prepare for emergencies and disasters.
- Federal Coordinating Officer
- An official appointed by the President to coordinate Federal assistance in a Presidentially declared emergency or major disaster.
- Field Assessment Team
- A small team of pre-identified technical experts who assess response needs (not a PDA) immediately following a disaster. These experts are selected from FEMA, other agencies and organizations, including the U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the American Red Cross, as well as the affected State(s). All FAsT operations are joint Federal/State efforts.
- Fire Hazard
- A hazard caused by the potential for fire, such as from combustible materials or faulty electrical systems.
- First Aid
- Basic medical treatment provided to a person in need of immediate care.
- Flash Flood
- A situation in which rainfall is so intense and severe, and runoff so rapid, that it is not possible to record and relate it to stream stages and other information in time to forecast a flood condition.
- A temporary and general condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas due to overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual or rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters, or mudslides/mudflows caused by water accumulation.
- An area of land adjacent to a river or other body of water that is at risk of flooding.
- Gas Leak
- The release of natural gas or other flammable gases into the environment, which can pose a hazard to public safety.
- A device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy, often used as a backup power source during emergencies.
- Governor’s Authorized Representative
- The person authorized by the Governor to execute all necessary documents for disaster assistance on behalf of the State.
- Hazard Mitigation
- Any action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from hazards. The term is sometimes used to refer specifically to cost-effective measures that reduce the potential for damage to a facility or facilities from a disaster event.
- Hazardous Material
- Any substance or material that, when involved in an accident and released in sufficient quantities, poses a risk to people’s health, safety, and/or property. Examples include explosives, radioactive materials, flammable or combustible liquids or solids, poisons, oxidizers, toxins, and corrosive materials.
- Hazardous Waste
- Waste materials that pose a significant risk to human health or the environment
- Heat Wave
- A prolonged period of hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity and can lead to various health problems.
- High-Hazard Areas
- Geographic locations that, based on historical experience and vulnerability analysis, are likely to experience the effects of a specific hazard (such as a hurricane, earthquake, or hazardous materials accident) resulting in significant property damage and loss of life.
- Home Emergency Kit
- A collection of essential items that households can keep on hand to prepare for emergencies or disasters, such as a first-aid kit, non-perishable food, water, flashlights, and batteries.
- Hostage Situation
- A scenario in which a person or group is held against their will by another individual or group.
- Humanitarian Aid
- Assistance provided to people in need, usually in response to a crisis or disaster, to alleviate suffering and ensure basic needs are met.
- A tropical cyclone that forms in the atmosphere over warm ocean areas, with wind speeds of 74 miles per hour or more blowing in a large spiral around a relatively calm center or “eye.” Circulation is counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Ice Storm
- A weather event that occurs when freezing rain falls and creates a layer of ice on surfaces, such as roads, trees, and power lines, which can cause significant damage and disruption.
- Incident Command System (ICS)
- A standardized organizational structure designed to command, control, and coordinate resources and personnel responding to an emergency. ICS includes common terminology, modular organization, integrated communication, unified command structure, consolidated action plan, manageable span of control, designated incident facilities, and comprehensive resource management. ICS provides a framework for effective emergency response, ensuring that resources are utilized in the most efficient way possible.
- Infectious Disease
- A disease caused by microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites, that can be transmitted from person to person.
- Influenza Pandemic
- A global outbreak of a new strain of the influenza virus that causes serious illness and spreads rapidly across countries and continents.
- Joint Information Center (JIC)
- A central point of contact for news media near the scene of a large-scale disaster. The JIC ensures that media representatives are kept informed of activities and events by public information officials representing all participating federal, state, and local agencies. The JIC facilitates effective communication and coordination among agencies and media outlets, providing accurate and timely information to the public.
- Joint Information System (JIS)
- A system that connects public affairs personnel, decision-makers, and news centers by electronic mail, fax, and telephone when a single Federal-State-local JIC is not a viable option. The JIS allows for effective communication and coordination among agencies during emergency response.
- The point at which a storm, such as a hurricane or tropical storm, makes landfall on the coast.
- A natural disaster that occurs when large masses of soil, rock, or debris move down a slope or hillside.
- Mass Care
- Actions taken to protect evacuees and other disaster victims from the effects of the disaster. Mass care activities include providing temporary shelter, food, medical care, clothing, and other essential life support needs to those who have been displaced from their homes due to a disaster or threatened disaster. Mass care is a critical component of emergency response, ensuring that those affected by a disaster receive the support they need.
- Mobile Disaster Hospital
- A temporary healthcare facility that can be set up in the aftermath of a disaster to provide medical care to those in need.
- National Incident Management System (NIMS)
- A standardized approach to incident management that provides a framework for coordinating emergency response efforts among multiple agencies and organizations.
- Natural Disaster
- An event caused by natural phenomena, such as a hurricane, earthquake, flood, or wildfire, that can cause significant damage and loss of life.
- Nuclear Detonation
- An explosion resulting from fission and/or fusion reactions in nuclear material, such as that from a nuclear weapon. Nuclear detonations can have catastrophic consequences, requiring a coordinated and effective emergency response.
- Nuclear Emergency
- An emergency situation that arises from a nuclear accident or attack, which may involve the release of radioactive material into the environment.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Clothing and equipment worn by individuals to protect themselves from potential hazards, such as exposure to infectious diseases or dangerous chemicals.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- A mental health disorder that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
- Power Outage
- A disruption in the supply of electricity that can be caused by severe weather, equipment failure, or other factors.
- Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA)
- A mechanism used to determine the impact and magnitude of damage and the resulting unmet needs of individuals, businesses, the public sector, and the community as a whole. PDAs are made by at least one state and one federal representative, with local government representatives also participating as needed. PDAs provide important information used by the state and FEMA to document recommendations for presidential declarations and to identify critical unmet needs in the affected community.
- Preparedness Kit
- A collection of items that individuals or households can assemble in advance to prepare for emergencies or disasters.
- Public Health Emergency
- A situation that poses a significant threat to the health of the public, such as an outbreak of a contagious disease or a natural disaster that disrupts healthcare services.
- Public Information Officer (PIO)
- A government official responsible for preparing and coordinating the dissemination of emergency public information. PIOs play a critical role in emergency response, ensuring that accurate and timely information is provided to the public.
- Radiation Sickness
- A condition resulting from excessive exposure to ionizing radiation, characterized by specific symptoms.
- Radiological Monitoring
- The process of detecting and measuring radiation using specialized instruments.
- Recovery Activities
- Activities that take place after the initial crisis and emergency response phase of a disaster, with the goal of returning the affected community to a normal or less vulnerable state.
- Regional Operating Center
- A temporary facility that coordinates federal response and recovery activities in a disaster, located at the FEMA Regional Office.
- The act of saving someone from danger or harm, such as in the aftermath of a disaster or accident.
- Resource Management
- The process of identifying and obtaining the resources needed for disaster response, coordinating their allocation and delivery, and ensuring their proper use and accountability.
- A violent disturbance that may involve a large group of people, resulting in property damage, injuries, and arrests.
- Search and Rescue (SAR)
- The process of locating and providing assistance to individuals who are lost, injured, or in distress, often in the aftermath of a disaster or emergency.
- Secondary Hazard
- A potential threat that would result from a triggering event, such as a dam failure after an earthquake.
- Severe Weather
- Extreme or hazardous weather conditions, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or severe thunderstorms, that can cause significant damage and loss of life.
- Shelter in Place
- A protective action taken during an emergency or disaster, in which individuals are advised to stay indoors and seal off their homes or buildings to minimize exposure to a hazard.
- A weather event that occurs when a significant amount of snow falls in a short period of time, often causing travel disruptions and power outages.
- Special Needs Shelter
- A facility that provides temporary housing and assistance to individuals with disabilities or other special needs in the aftermath of a disaster.
- Standard Operating Procedure
- A set of instructions that specify how to carry out specific tasks during disaster response, supplementing Emergency Operations Plans.
- State Coordinating Officer
- The person appointed by the Governor to coordinate state response and recovery activities with those of the Federal Government.
- State Liaison
- A FEMA official assigned to a particular state to handle initial coordination in the early stages of an emergency.
- State of Emergency
- A situation in which a government declares a state
- Storm Surge
- A dome of seawater created by strong winds and low barometric pressure in a hurricane, causing severe coastal flooding when the hurricane strikes land.
- Structural Damage
- Damage to the structure of buildings or other man-made structures that make them unsafe or uninhabitable.
- The use or threat of criminal violence against civilians or infrastructure to achieve political goals through fear and intimidation. Emergency management focuses on the consequences of terrorist acts that target large numbers of people.
- Terrorist Attack
- A violent act carried out by an individual or a group of people with the intention of creating fear or terror among the population, often motivated by political, ideological, or religious beliefs.
- A storm with thunder and lightning, often accompanied by strong winds, heavy rain, and sometimes hail.
- A local atmospheric storm of short duration, characterized by high-speed winds rotating in a counter-clockwise direction. The vortex, visible as a whirlpool-like column, can reach several hundred yards wide and winds can exceed 300 miles per hour.
- Tropical Storm
- A storm that develops in the tropics with strong winds (39-74 mph), often accompanied by heavy rain, thunderstorms, and storm surges.
- Sea waves generated by an undersea earthquake. These waves can reach up to 80 feet in height and can cause devastating damage to coastal cities and low-lying areas.
- Utility Outage
- The disruption of essential utility services, such as electricity, gas, water, or telecommunications, which can cause inconvenience or even danger to the public.
- A geological formation that results from the eruption of molten rock, ash, and gas from the Earth’s crust. Volcanic eruptions can cause a range of hazards, including lava flows, ashfall, pyroclastic flows, and volcanic gases.
- The alerting of emergency responders and the public to the threat of imminent danger and the related effects that specific hazards may cause. Warnings issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) indicate that severe weather conditions are expected in a defined area.
- An indication by the NWS that conditions in a defined area are favorable for the specified type of severe weather. For example, a flash flood watch, severe thunderstorm watch, tornado watch, or tropical storm watch signals that weather conditions may develop that could lead to dangerous situations.
- An uncontrolled fire that occurs in the natural environment, often caused by lightning or human activity. Wildfires can spread quickly and pose a serious threat to people, property, and wildlife.
- Winter Weather
- Adverse weather conditions that occur during the winter months, including snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, and extreme cold. Winter weather can cause a range of hazards, such as traffic accidents, power outages, and hypothermia.