Disaster Coverage

Date: 21.11.2017     Last updated: 21.11.2017 at 13.52
This information should be used during an initial response to a disaster and may be superseded by a specific risk assessment.

Generic risk assessments covering disasters e.g. earthquake, tsunami, floods may be written by the High Risk team for large events & deployments. These can be found on ENPS or possibly on the Safety Alert section of the MyRisks site. You can also check with your local Safety Adviser.

What Can Go Wrong?

  • Accidents from tripping, sharp objects and damaged infrastructure
  • Fragile and damaged buildings and services could result in electric shock, burns, gas leaks/explosion, steam/scalding, exposure to sewage and the related health risks
  • Lack of welfare and infrastructure ie communications
  • Disease outbreaks
  • Risks to personal security due to breakdown in law and order
  • Becoming a burden on the local community due to poor planning
  • Emotional trauma

Legal/BBC Requirements

This guide provides important background and information to inform your planning, assessment and arrangements. Reading it does not make you an expert, nor preclude the need for separate risk assessment. If you require any additional information or clarification you should always contact the Safety Advice Line or High Risk team, as appropriate.

Control Measures

General Controls

  • Review the scale, location and extent for the disaster and consider if it is High Risk or in a Hostile Environment.
  • Wear tough sensible shoes and clothing.
  • Be alert to potential dangers and assist other team members.
  • Avoid moving outside at night and take torch / head light.
  • Recce the area before moving in.
  • Be alert to damaged buildings and infrastructure (above, on and below ground). Never enter damaged buildings / structures.
  • Don’t stand close to or under structures - to avoid falling material.
  • Avoid wading into water when you can’t see the bottom.
  • Never touch or approach damaged cables or pipe work.
  • Don’t smoke or light fires unless checks have been made that gas or other propellants are absent.
  • Listen to local briefings and emergency services advice and weather forecasts (local and request from BBC Weather). Also do your research before setting out on task.
  • Plan to take enough water, food, shelter, power sources and medical supplies to be self-sufficient. Grab bags with everything you will need are available from Safety Stores.
  • Waterproof kit and equipment if necessary. Waterproof bags are available from Safety stores.
  • Organise shelter away from damaged structures (particularly industrial) or further damage from aftershocks.
  • Organise breaks to avoid extreme fatigue.
  • Ensure you have contact numbers and means of communicating with base, keep them informed of the situation and your location.
  • It is likely that the communications systems will be affected so a satellite phone and Began are recommended.
  • Be aware that desperate people may take extreme & uncharacteristic actions to take your food and equipment.
  • Keep a low profile and avoid displaying supplies or wealth.
  • The increase in stray animals could increase risk of rabies in endemic areas.
  • Snakes may be displaced from their natural environment and may be more dangerous.
  • Consider the challenge of local transportation - local travel infrastructure will often be damaged; research the local impact if possible and consider that there may be landslides, bridge collapse, flood etc.
  • Liaise with local authorities and any charities that may have already been first respondents on scene for up to date details.
  • Consider whether there will be further predicted crises that will impact on the area – ie more storms, flooding, aftershocks, landslides etc.

Portable power from generators

  • Generators must be sourced and managed by a reputable supplier. The supplier is also responsible for managing the generator and the support infrastructure including fuel and connections. See the Production Electrical and Lighting page for more information.


  • Ensure you read the section on Disaster Coverage - Health Aspects to reduce the risks to health.

Hostile Environments & High Risks

  • Contact the High Risks team for guidance and consult the other topics in the High Risk Topic List


  • There is earthquake related guidance which can be obtained from the Safety Team. This provides full details for when deploying to an earthquake affected area.

Emotional trauma 

  • Think about any disturbing story lines and possible impact on mental health and discuss before deployment.
  • Carry out debrief with colleague or Line Manager after potentially traumatic event / exposure and further debriefs as needed.
  • Referral into BBC support systems including EAP and TRiM Network.
  • Refer to the News Group page on Trauma for more information.

Division Specific Issues

  • This guidance is for Journalists who are first responders covering disasters.

FAQs/Did You Know?

There are no FAQ.

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About this site

This site describes what the BBC does in relation to managing its health, safety and security risks and is intended for those who work directly for the BBC.

It is not intended to provide instruction or guidance on how third parties should manage their risks. The BBC cannot be held liable for how this information is interpreted or used by third parties, nor provide any assurance that adopting it would provide any measure of legal compliance. More information.

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