D5 What is most at risk?

  • In a disaster, saving people’s lives is always the first priority. But other things are also at risk. These may include all kinds of property, livestock, crops, food stores, fruit trees, water supplies, and resources used to earn money, such as tools, fishing equipment, transport or fuel supplies.
  • Different people will have different personal priorities and it can be useful to discuss what these would be in a disaster. It may also be very useful to discuss what priorities the whole community might have in a disaster.

  • Divide people into pairs and read this story aloud: You wake up and realise your house is on fire. The entire roof is on fire and there is nothing you can do to save the house. There is no-one else in the house. You have just two or three minutes to take out with you the five things that are most important to you. What would you take out?
  • Give people a few minutes to decide which five things they would take out first.
  • Then ask each pair to decide which item they would take out first and why.
  • Ask several pairs to share with the others what items they have chosen.
  • Explain that they have made a priority list. From all their possessions, they prioritised the five most important. Then they decided on their top priority and gave the reasons for this.
  • After people have shared their first priority, discuss whether this would benefit the whole community. Should people reconsider their priorities?
  • Try repeating this exercise to consider community priorities. Here is another suggested situation: You hear on the radio that a cyclone is bringing severe winds and that flooding will reach your area in one hour’s time. Think about your community and decide which five actions you would take to save as many lives and as much property as possible. Which would be the top priority?

The sample chart below shows examples of what the priorities might be if a cyclone was forecast.

Provide transport
Secure emergency shelter
Medical supplies
Water supplies
Secure documents
Secure personal possessions
Secure roofs