People want to feel safe in their own living environment. Nevertheless, there are always dangers and risks, such as accidents, fires and floods. Often the chance of these occurring is small, but we still want to have an insight into the risks and dangers which may occur. Some risk sources are easier to assess than others. Companies that use hazardous substances are easier to assess than feelings about social safety in a neighbourhood.
The Security Regions' Regional Risk Profile Guidance Document (2009) refers to seven types of crisis. These are crises in the natural environment, the built environment, the technological environment, the vital infrastructure and facilities, traffic and transport, health and social environment. In the Atlas of the Living Environment we make a distinction between natural disasters and accidents.
Range of possible effects
100% safety cannot be guaranteed. Accidents or disasters can result in immediate personal injury. Alternatively, hazardous substances may be released which affect the health of individuals and/or large groups. There may also be an effect on the health of those who do not immediately suffer any consequences. This may take the form of worry and stress.
If a safety risk exists, this will relate primarily to the number of deaths as a result of an incident. This means fatalities in the immediate surroundings as a direct consequence of the incident. The higher the number of deaths, the greater the social disruption, suffering and emotions.
Often there is a difference between an actual risk and society's perception of a risk. Characteristics of risks which cause concern among the public are: the possible large-scale damage, the large number of injuries and fatalities, the possible impact of an event, the (un)familiarity with the risk, the lack of control and the (in)voluntariness of exposure.
The government is obliged to provide information about possible risks to the public. That is why there is a description of what these risks exactly are, which dangers you could face and which protection is possible in the event of a calamity. You will find explanations of all these dangers on the Risk Map. A ministerial regulation includes further, generally binding rules for the risk map. It describes which vulnerable premises and risky situations have to be shown on the Risk Map. The provincial governments make and manage the risk maps for the residents. The data comes from municipalities, state and the provincial governments themselves.
Of course the government is also pursuing a policy to tackle the risks for the environment associated with an airport, a company, or the transportation of hazardous substances. This policy falls under the heading 'environmental safety'.
Security Regions Act
The Security Regions Act came into effect on 1 October 2010. This act brings together fire services, medical assistance in the event of accidents and disasters, disaster management and crisis management into a single organisation. There are 25 security regions in the Netherlands.
Security services create a risk profile for each neighbourhood. These are used as a basis for policy. A greater deployment of emergency services is required at locations where large numbers of people would be present during a disaster or accident. An important term used by security experts is 'vulnerable premises'. Vulnerable premises (also referred to as 'public buildings') are buildings that can accommodate lots of people, or buildings where people are present who cannot take care of themselves (ill people, elderly people, children). Examples of such buildings are nurseries, primary schools, hospitals, hotels with more than 10 beds, or buildings with more than 25 floors. In the context of a zoning plan the presence of vulnerable premises can have consequences for the Environmental management permit of a nearby company.
An emergency situation is always unexpected. You therefore need to make sure that you are properly prepared. This can be done in several ways:
- Put together an emergency package.
- Make sure you are aware of the possible risks in your environment via the Risk Map . This details per risk what the danger is, which safety measures are available and what you can do yourself.
- Set the frequency of your regional broadcaster on your radio and/or television. These channels will be officially required to provide information in the event of an emergency.
- Attend a first aid course. If something happens, you will be able to help yourself and others.
- Are there people nearby who need extra help in an emergency situation? Discuss with them what you can do them in the event of an emergency.