Home About us Editorial board Search Browse articles Submit article Instructions Contacts Login 
Users Online: 65
Home Print this page Email this page


Previous article Browse articles Next article 
J Edu Health Promot 2019,  8:85

The importance of education on disasters and emergencies: A review article

1 Department of Health Services Management, School of Management and Medical Informatics, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
2 Ph.D. Student in Disasters and Emergencies Health Management, School of Management and Medical Informatics, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
3 MSc Anesthesia, PhD Medical Education, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Date of Submission20-Aug-2018
Date of Acceptance20-Oct-2018
Date of Web Publication24-Apr-2019

Correspondence Address:
Mrs. Parisa Moradi Majd
Department of Health in Disasters and Emergencies, School of Health Management and Information Sciences, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_262_18

Rights and Permissions

Disasters and emergencies have been increasing all over the world. Todays, with technological advancement, acquiring knowledge and its application in the realm of action is regarded as the only effective way for prevent disasters or reducing its effects. The present study aimed to review the importance of education and the effect of different methods of education on disaster risk reduction and preparedness in vulnerable people. To this aim, some articles indexed in Database of PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar, Scopus, Science Direct, and ProQuest were searched. The search was limited to reviewed articles in English published between 1990 and 2017. In addition, the selected articles were reviewed for relevant citations. The conducted studies were reviewed by two researchers independently. The primary search generated 128 relevant references. After eliminating the duplicates and articles which were not related to the review of the abstract, 41 references were identified for inclusion. After reviewing more, 31 references, which failed to meet inclusion index, were excluded from the study. Disaster education aims to provide knowledge among individuals and groups to take actions to reduce their vulnerability to disasters. During the last decades, the issue that trained people can be prepared for disasters and responding well has been extensively investigated. Based on the results, disaster education is a functional, operational, and cost-effective tool for risk management. Based on some evidence, it is important for vulnerable people to learn about disasters. There are different methods to educate vulnerable people, but no method is better than others. Trained people can better protect themselves and others. In this regard, planning and designing comprehensive educational programs are necessary for people to face disasters.

Keywords: Disasters, education, vulnerable people

How to cite this article:
Torani S, Majd PM, Maroufi SS, Dowlati M, Sheikhi RA. The importance of education on disasters and emergencies: A review article. J Edu Health Promot 2019;8:85

How to cite this URL:
Torani S, Majd PM, Maroufi SS, Dowlati M, Sheikhi RA. The importance of education on disasters and emergencies: A review article. J Edu Health Promot [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Aug 12];8:85. Available from: http://www.jehp.net/text.asp?2019/8/1/85/257008

  Introduction Top

On the other hand, natural and man-made disasters cause serious disruption to a community, and there are many casualties, financial, environmental, social, and economic losses, which are beyond the power of the community.[1] As emergencies and disasters, along with their destructive effects, are rising all over the world acquiring knowledge and its uses are regarded as the most effective way to prevent disasters or reduce its effects with the advancement in technology.[2] Although the vulnerability of some communities and individuals to natural and human-made disasters is inevitable, the individuals can play a role in reducing these disasters by changing system resilience and disaster recovery capacity.[3],[4],[5] There is evidence that most injuries, damages, and deaths from disasters can be prevented and disaster preparedness measures such as housing adjustment against risks can reduce the damage caused by disasters and accordingly improve recovery. In addition, it is more effective when the people of a community have good cooperation in allocating resources and doing appropriate recovery after disasters.[6],[7],[8] Officials and policy-makers have focused on developing a new approach for persuading people and making leaps in disaster risk reduction such as training the children, the general public, especially vulnerable people by considering the increased risk of disasters and vulnerability due to climate change, development, increased income inequality, and low level of readiness among homemakers.[3],[9],[10],[11],[12] Disaster education for vulnerable aims to provide knowledge, skills, motivation in individuals and groups to take actions to reduce their vulnerability to disasters. Even, educating vulnerable people makes effective actions for other people or communities.[13] During the last decades, some studies indicated that trained people in society can be prepared for disasters and respond well. In addition, some reported that disaster education is a functional, operational, and cost-effective tool for risk management.[14] Further, some confirmed that low awareness and inadequate understanding of risk play a negative effect on people's readiness, response to hazard warnings, personal protection measures, and recovery.[15],[16] Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) (2005–2015) emphasized five performance priorities for reducing the risk of disasters in the world. The priority of the third function was to apply knowledge, innovation, and education in order to create a culture of safety and resilience at all levels. According to HFA, disasters are basically reduced when people are well aware and the motivation is to create a culture of prevention and resilience to disaster. In this regard, collecting and disseminating knowledge and information on hazards, vulnerabilities, and capacities, especially for vulnerable people should be prioritized.[17],[18] In addition to, it is important to note that people who are vulnerable due to their limitations and conditions certainly need special training and attention with the help of trained and professional people.[14],[17],[18]

  Materials and Methods Top

In this overview, we reviewed articles published in prestigious journals and websites during 1990–2017. Databases included PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar, Scopus, and Science Direct. The searched keywords included disaster, education, emergencies, vulnerable group, and target group. The primary search generated 128 relevant references. After eliminating duplicates and articles not related to the review of the abstract, 41 references were identified for inclusion. Then, 31 references not meeting inclusion index were excluded after further review. Among the papers, 11 articles were included in the study [Table 1].
Table 1: Division of education for vulnerable people to disasters

Click here to view

In order to increase the validity and reliability of the study, the researchers searched the articles simultaneously and evaluated the quality of the articles separately. The inclusion criteria were the use of English for writing the papers on vulnerable people, being conducted in all parts of the world and evaluating education strategy and protocol. Finally, 11 articles were enrolled in the study [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Flowchart of article selection process

Click here to view

Target group for disaster education

To make disaster education programs more effective for community members, target groups and individuals should be identified.[19],[20],[21],[22],[23] According to a division of vulnerable people to disasters can be classified as follows [Table 2]. The protocol and educational methods are not the same for all people in the community with levels of authority, education, and level of information. Therefore, the division of people leads to saving more time and energy spent on training and accordingly people learn more effectively.[24],[23],[25],[26],[27],[28]
Table 2: Characteristics of key studies

Click here to view

Disaster education for vulnerable people

According to the World Health Organization, vulnerability is a degree to which a population, individual, or organization cannot predict, cope, resist, and rehabilitate after the disaster and vulnerable people such as children, pregnant women, the elderly, malnutrition, and people with disabilities.[14],[15],[16],[17],[18] The significance of disaster education to different classes of society at all levels has been endorsed by a large number of studies.[33],[29],[34] However, it is worth noting that people who are vulnerable due to their limitations and conditions need special training and attention with the help of trained and professional people.[14],[17],[18]

Disaster education for children

Although there is little statistical information on the number of children affected by natural and man-made disasters in the world,[20],[21],[35],[30],[36],[31] the United States estimated that around 1 billion children under the age of 15 are living in earthquake-affected countries.[37] In addition, more than 175 million children each year are facing with the crisis caused by climate change. Scientists and authorities have acknowledged that children are dependent on adults due to physical, emotional, and cognitive abilities for safety, as well as protection against emergencies and disasters.[5],[9],[38] During the recent decades, disaster education programs have been considered for children as an innovative approach to disaster risk reduction. Many theories have favored the usefulness of these programs. Education can increase the perception of risk among children.[19],[33],[29]

According to the studies conducted in various countries such as Japan, there is a direct link between education, increased risk perception, and students' risk reduction measures. Encouraging children to think about the importance of preventive measures and preparedness can bridge the gap between knowing and acting on knowledge.[9],[19] Todays, disaster education should be explicitly addressed as a way to improve the level of child resiliency and information transmission to reduce the risk of disasters in their homes.[34] [Table 3] indicates some benefits of starting an education at a lower age and schools.
Table 3: Some benefits of early childhood education

Click here to view

There is an international consensus that disaster education programs for children will improve the preparedness and resilience among children and families against disasters. The evidence is well-documented in the Hyundai document during 2005–2015.[20] According to the results of some studies, people never forget what they learn at an early age. Therefore, it is very useful for people to learn disaster prevention and risk reduction methods from childhood.[6],[8],[9],[38],[39] The most important part of training children is related to the preparation phase for the disaster. As a result, it is very important for families, schools, and hospital staff to be well-acquainted with the significance of preparedness education for children.[8],[40] In this regard, selecting the right population is considered as the first step in preparing disaster education for children. Children should be targeted at three levels of education including primary education for families, teachers, school administrators, educating managers and planners of hospitals, as well as training hospital staff. Families and schools are the first respondents for children at school ages at the time of disaster. Based on conditions and time, families or school staff may initiate first aid and manage the emergency evacuation of children to safe havens and hospitals at the time of the disaster. Therefore, training children is entirely dependent on the education of families and schools. Equalizing disaster risk education in the curriculum of schools at all levels, especially primary schools, is regarded as one of the main indicators towards this priority.[6],[9]

Key education activities based on HFA include coordinating disaster prevention and preparedness activities at different levels in schools and universities, defining disaster risk education in reference books, building skills for teachers, curbing school safety programs, and employing children and students for planning community emergency management.[3],[10],[33],[41] New Zealand and the United States are two examples of countries which focused on national education for children's education. Various types of disaster education programs for children have been registered, among which we can refer to formal and informal school-based programs and community and outside of the curriculum programs.[5],[9],[40] In recent years, Japan recognized the importance of preventing disaster education at an early age and designed a disaster prevention training booklet for elementary school and elementary schools with the help of officials and engineers. Further, there are some educational programs such as workshops, exercises and maneuvers, operational training, and preventive measures by children and showing the incidental points for children in this country is underway.[3],[5],[9],[19],[41] However, according to some studies, maneuvering in schools cannot be used alone to teach adaptive skills in response to disasters.[19]

Disaster education for women

Women are considered as vulnerable people and they face a lot of problems during the disaster.[5],[16],[39],[42],[43] According to the research results, women have a great interest in educating and preparing for emergencies and disasters. Disaster education for women can increase the level of education, awareness, and readiness among all members of the family, especially children.[17],[21],[29],[43] Teaching women in different centers is conducted by formal and informal groups, mosques, schools, offices, and so on. However, there is still a need for basic measures in the field of disasters education. Some women become active members of the group after being trained and act as agents to educate other people in the community.[8] Special attention should be given to reproductive health issues in the proposed disability education for women.[12],[42]

Disaster education for the elderly and disabled people

Elderly people need special training in specific ways with regard to physical conditions and cognitive impairment. In addition, psychological support for younger people by elderly is very important in disaster situations, which should be considered as one of the key tutorials.[5],[11],[42],[32] If people with disabilities are informed about their disaster protection practices, they can save themselves without other people's help in such circumstances. According to some studies, training such people is directly related to their survival after disasters.[23]

  Discussion Top

The main challenge and gap in the reviewed papers was that most countries have selected different models to design a training plan.[22] In addition, the impact of education was not systematically evaluated in most countries.[44],[45] For this reason, many of the training programs are not effective and do not result in a proper change in the behavior and performance of vulnerable people.[21],[22] For example, in Bam earthquake, many people were damaged due to lack of proper training and surprise, and vulnerable people did not consider their care and rescue methods. Further, in Kermanshah earthquake, a large number of people in subsequent earthquakes suffered from serious damage due to lack of proper knowledge of the situation and the fact that they came to the streets and stayed in insecure places, without leaving properly. Thus, schools, mosques, Red Crescent Centers, and nongovernmental organizations can provide training to these people.

Those responsible for education and research in the field of disaster education can be served to improve the level of education. Different methods of training can be used in this regard. Furthermore, different types of exercises and maneuvers can be applied for proper planning, which improves the level of knowledge and skills among individuals and is used as a method for evaluating the performance of individuals in simulated conditions. In addition, the maneuvers and exercises used for vulnerable people are different, and special attention should be paid to these people, although much attention has not been paid to these issues.

Disaster education is effective at all stages of the crisis, but its impact is even more in preparation. Therefore, more educational planning should be considered at this stage.[16],[17],[18]

According to some studies, effective measures for greater productivity and achieving the desirable standards of education for vulnerable people such as evaluating the pathology of existing educational activities for children, surveying educational work, recognizing successful and effective activities for children, involving the elites and thinkers concerned with the issue, changing the ways of education and culture, drawing up a vision document and act accordingly with educational standards, insisting on the continuity of programs, and using educational technology experience. Finally, disaster education is a functional, operational, and cost-effective tool for risk management in vulnerable people.

  Conclusion Top

Based on the results, special attention should be paid to disaster education for vulnerable people. In this regard, the disaster vulnerable groups should be identified and accordingly special training should be adopted for these people. It is worth noting that effective training can prevent or reduce the effects of some disasters. Trained people can protect themselves and others better. As a result, training can reduce human and financial loss due to disasters, which is regarded as a more important issue for vulnerable people although it has been less emphasized and there is no comprehensive training program. There are different methods to train vulnerable people although no method is the best method. Thus, it is necessary to plan and design comprehensive educational programs for those facing disasters.

Finally, it is suggested that vulnerable individuals should be designed and implemented by well-known professional training teams and adopting comprehensive and standard training programs for these people. Accordingly, the impact of these programs should be assessed to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on National Earthquake Resilience – Research Implementation and Outreach. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Seismology and Geodynamics. National Research Council (U.S.). Board on Earth Sciences and Resources. National Earthquake Resilience: Research, Implementation, and Outreach. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press; 2011.  Back to cited text no. 1
Adiyoso W, Kanegae H. The Effect of Different Disaster Education Programs on Tsunami Preparedness among Schoolchildren in Aceh. Indonesia: Disaster Mitigation of Cultural Heritage and Historic Cities; 2012.6:165-172.  Back to cited text no. 2
Aldrich N, Benson WF. Disaster preparedness and the chronic disease needs of vulnerable older adults. Prev Chronic Dis 2008;5:A27.  Back to cited text no. 3
Morris KA, Edwards MT. Disaster risk reduction and vulnerable populations in Jamaica: Protecting children within the comprehensive disaster management framework. Child Youth Environ 2008;18:389-407.  Back to cited text no. 4
Tuladhar G, Yatabe R, Dahal RK, Bhandary NP. Assessment of disaster risk reduction knowledge of school teachers in Nepal. Int J Health Syst Disaster Manag 2015;3:20.  Back to cited text no. 5
Collymore J. Disaster management in the Caribbean: Perspectives on institutional capacity reform and development. Environ Hazards 2011;10:6-22.  Back to cited text no. 6
Izadkhah YO, Hosseini M. Disaster preparedness strategy through earthquake education and training of classified target groups. InProceedings of The 2nd International Conference on Integrated Natural Disaster Management (INDM), Tehran: United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction 2007 Feb.   Back to cited text no. 7
Muzenda-Mudavanhu C, Manyena B, Collins AE. Disaster risk reduction knowledge among children in Muzarabani district, Zimbabwe. Nat Hazards 2016;84:911-31.  Back to cited text no. 8
Bosschaart A, van der Schee J, Kuiper W, Schoonenboom J. Evaluating a flood-risk education program in the Netherlands. Stud Educ Eval 2016;50:53-61.  Back to cited text no. 9
Brodie M, Weltzien E, Altman D, Blendon RJ, Benson JM. Experiences of hurricane Katrina evacuees in Houston shelters: Implications for future planning. Am J Public Health 2006;96:1402-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
Morrow BH. Identifying and mapping community vulnerability. Disasters 1999;23:1-8.  Back to cited text no. 11
Kagawa F, Selby D. Ready for the storm: Education for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation1. J Educ Sustain Dev 2012;6:207-17.  Back to cited text no. 12
Rohrmann B, editor. Risk Perception, Risk Attitude, Risk Communication, Risk Management: A conceptual Appraisal. Conference Presented at the International Society of Emergency Management; 2008.  Back to cited text no. 13
Center AD. A Study on Impact of Disasters on the Education Sector in Cambodia. Bangkok: Asian Disaster Preparedness Center; 2008.  Back to cited text no. 14
UNICEF. Disaster Risk Reduction and Education. New York: UNICEF; 2011.  Back to cited text no. 15
Wisner B. A Review of the Role of Education and Knowledge in Disaster Risk Reduction; 2006.  Back to cited text no. 16
Muttarak R, Pothisiri W. The role of education on disaster preparedness: Case study of 2012 Indian Ocean earthquakes on Thailand's Andaman Coast. Ecol Soc 2013; 18: 51.  Back to cited text no. 17
Rundmo T, Nordfjærn T. Does risk perception really exist? Saf Sci 2017;93:230-40.  Back to cited text no. 18
Faber MH, Giuliani L, Revez A, Jayasena S, Sparf J, Mendez JM. Interdisciplinary approach to disaster resilience education and research. Procedia Econ Finance 2014;18:601-9.  Back to cited text no. 19
Lopes R. Community Partnerships in Education: Dimensions, Variations and Implications. EFA Thematic Study. The University of Hong Kong. Senegal 26-28 April October 1999. 15-20.  Back to cited text no. 20
O'Brien G, O'Keefe P, Rose J, Wisner B. Climate change and disaster management. Disasters 2006;30:64-80.  Back to cited text no. 21
Abbasi Dolatabadi Z, Seyedin H, Aryankhesal A. Policies on protecting vulnerable people during disasters in Iran: A Document analysis. Trauma Mon 2016;21:e31341.  Back to cited text no. 22
Thomas TN, Leander-Griffith M, Harp V, Cioffi JP. Influences of preparedness knowledge and beliefs on household disaster preparedness. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2015;64:965-71.  Back to cited text no. 23
Cherniack EP. The impact of natural disasters on the elderly. Am J Disaster Med 2008;3:133-9.  Back to cited text no. 24
Mohammad-Pajooh E. Investigating factors for disaster preparedness among residents of Kuala Lumpur. Nat Hazard Earth Syst Sci Discuss 2014;2:3683-709.  Back to cited text no. 25
Muttarak R, Lutz W. Is education a key to reducing vulnerability to natural disasters and hence unavoidable climate change? Ecol Soc 2014;19:42.  Back to cited text no. 26
Shiwaku K, Shaw R. Proactive co-learning: A new paradigm in disaster education. Disaster Prev Manag 2008;17:183-98.  Back to cited text no. 27
Motie MR, Kalani MR, Samadi A, Eshaghi H, Ghobadi P. Prevalence of job stressorsin male pre-hospital emergency technicians. Journal of Fundamentals of Mental Health 2010; 12:420-9.  Back to cited text no. 28
Johnson VA. Evaluating Disaster Education Programs for Children: a Thesis Presented for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Emergency Management at Massey University. Wellington, New Zealand: Massey University; 2014.  Back to cited text no. 29
Tsai MH, Wen MC, Chang YL, Kang SC. Game-based education for disaster prevention. AI Soc 2015;30:463-75.  Back to cited text no. 30
Hoffmann R, Muttarak R. A Tale of Disaster Experience in Two Countries: Does Education Promote Disaster Preparedness in the Philippines and Thailand. Vienna Institute of Demography Working Papers; 2015.  Back to cited text no. 31
Petal M, Izadkhah YO, editors. Concept note: Formal and informal education for disaster risk reduction. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on School Safety. Islamabad, Pakistan: German Committee for Disaster Reduction (DKKV); 2008.  Back to cited text no. 32
Shreve C, Fordham M, Anson S, Watson H, Hagen K, Wadhwa K, et al. Report on risk Perception and Preparedness. Deliverable 11 of the TACTIC Project; 2014. p. 31.  Back to cited text no. 33
Sawada Y. The Impact of Natural and Manmade Disasters on Household Welfare. Invited Paper Prepared for Presentation at the International Association of Agricultural Economists, Gold Coast/Australia; 2006. p. 12-8.  Back to cited text no. 34
Chen LC, Liu YC, Chan KC. Integrated community-based disaster management program in Taiwan: A case study of Shang – An village. Nat Hazards 2006;37:209-23.  Back to cited text no. 35
Arreola-Risa C, Mock CN, Lojero-Wheatly L, de la Cruz O, Garcia C, Canavati-Ayub F, et al. Low-cost improvements in prehospital trauma care in a Latin American city. J Trauma 2000;48:119-24.  Back to cited text no. 36
Kazuya Masuda and Chikako Yamauchi., “The Effects of Female Education on Adolescent Pregnancy and Child Health: Evidence from Uganda fs Universal Primary Education for Fully Treated Cohorts,” National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. 2017. 01-17.  Back to cited text no. 37
Izadkhah YO. Bridging the Generations: A Critical Assessment of Disaster Education in the Development of a Seismic Safety Culture in Iran. London: Cranfield University; 2004.  Back to cited text no. 38
Fox L, Timm N. Pediatric issues in disaster preparedness: Meeting the educational needs of nurses-are we there yet? J Pediatr Nurs 2008;23:145-52.  Back to cited text no. 39
Allen GM, Parrillo SJ, Will J, Mohr JA. Principles of disaster planning for the pediatric population. Prehosp Disaster Med 2007;22:537-40.  Back to cited text no. 40
Eisenman DP, Cordasco KM, Asch S, Golden JF, Glik D. Disaster planning and risk communication with vulnerable communities: Lessons from hurricane Katrina. Am J Public Health 2007;97 Suppl 1:S109-15.  Back to cited text no. 41
Sayeed AT, editor. The Pakistan Earthquake's Impact on Women. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development; 2005.  Back to cited text no. 42
Fernandez LS, Byard D, Lin CC, Benson S, Barbera JA. Frail elderly as disaster victims: Emergency management strategies. Prehosp Disaster Med 2002;17:67-74.  Back to cited text no. 43
Cummings GE, Corte FD, Cummings GG. Disaster medicine education for physicians: A systematic review. Int J Disasters Med 2006;4:36-125.  Back to cited text no. 44
Jonidi Jafari A, Baba M, Dowlati M. Disaster risk assessment in health centers of Iran University of medical sciences in functional, nonstructural and structural components in 2015-2016. Iran Occup Health J 2018;15:76-85.  Back to cited text no. 45


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


Previous article  Next article
Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Materials and Me...
Article Figures
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded188    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal