What is the difference betweeen a Hazard and a Disaster?

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Hazards and disasters may sound like the same thing, but there is a vital difference.

A hazard, in relation to emergency disaster preparedness, can be defined as:

any source of potential damage, harm or adverse health effects to life, health, property or the environment.

A disaster, in relation to emergency disaster preparedness, can be defined as:

a devastating impact of a hazard that negatively affects life, health, property or the environment on a scale sufficient to require outside assistance.

Since a disaster is the result of a hazard’s impact on the society, the effects of a disaster are determined by the extent of a community’s vulnerability to the hazard (or conversely, its ability, or capacity to cope with it).

Hazard and Disaster Distinction

Hazard: Earthquake Faults[8]
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Disaster: 1906 San Francisco Earthquake[8]
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References:
  1. Image Source: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/nca/wg02/index.php [Accessed May 11, 2013]
  2. Image Source: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/nca/1906/18april/index.php [Accessed May 11, 2013]