The main principles of action in dealing with natural hazards are: recognising and avoiding hazards, dealing with the corresponding risks, checking safety levels periodically in affected areas and taking corresponding precautionary measures.
The individual communes have considerable skills and expertise in these areas. How the population ultimately deals with natural hazards depends very much on the communal authorities.
Hazard assessment is central to protection against natural hazards. The tools available for this purpose are:
- Hazard maps and the related technical reports
- Land-use planning
- Specific products that provide information about risks (e.g. risk and intervention maps)
Measures to be taken
- Maintenance of water courses and existing protective structures
- Protective forest maintenance
- Spatial-planning measures
- Protective structures (where protective forest and spatial-planning measures are insufficient)
Measures for the reduction of residual risks
- Hazard-appropriate construction of new buildings and infrastructure
- Preparation of intervention
- Preparation and availability of material necessary in emergencies
- Regulation of the competencies of the management bodies; establishment, operation, and maintenance of early warning systems
- Creation of communication systems that also work in crisis situations
Locale natural hazard advisors
Based on the insights gained from the analysis of past flood events, the conclusion has been reached that successful event response requires the on-site availability of all kinds of expert knowledge. The “Local Natural Hazard Advisors” project established by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) focuses on the reinforcement of local knowledge at communal level. The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) trains “natural hazard trainers” at cantonal level who then prepare local natural hazard advisors in the communes and regions for their tasks.
Completion of the different training blocks authorises the participants to work as “Natural Hazard Advisors”. Potential natural hazard advisors include employees involved in the implementation of the Civil Protection Concept: i.e. members of the police corps, the fire brigades, the health service, the technical operations and civil defence organisations and forest rangers who are very familiar with territory of their communes. During the course the participants learn to assume a consultative position before (hazard prevention), during (immediate response) and after (damage analysis) a hazard event. Their involvement begins with small measures: e.g. the timely removal of cars from the hazard zone, the timely clearing of cellars and the provision of sand bags and protective hoses.