"Emergency Preparedness is the discipline of dealing with and avoiding both natural and manmade disasters." It involves mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery in order to lessen the impact of disasters. Emergency management requires a partnership among all levels of government (local, State, and Federal) and the private sector (business and industry, voluntary organizations, and the public). Successful preparedness requires detailed planning and cooperation among each sector. Emergency preparedness ranges from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) developing an all inclusive plan to mitigate natural disasters to the individual ensuring their car has plenty of fuel for a possible evacuation.
The following principles illustrate the emergency preparedness concept. Emergency preparedness at all levels considers and takes into account all hazards, all phases, all stakeholders and all impacts relevant to disasters. Anticipation of future disasters and preventive and preparatory measures build disaster-resistant and disaster-resilient communities. Sound risk management principles (hazard identification, risk analysis, and impact analysis) are used in assigning priorities and resources. Unity of effort among all levels of government and all elements of a community are integrated. Broad and sincere relationships among individuals and organizations are incorporated to encourage trust, advocate a team atmosphere, build consensus, and facilitate communication. Activities of all relevant stakeholders are synchronized to achieve a common purpose. Creative and innovative approaches are used to overcome disaster challenges. Emergency preparedness uses a science and knowledge-based approach; based on education, training, experience, ethical practice, public stewardship and continuous improvement.  Management consists of four phases: Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and recovery.
Mitigation: Mitigation is the ability to limit death and economic damages by lessening the impact of disasters. The mitigation phase primarily focuses on preventing future emergencies or minimizing potential effects by reducing the probability an emergency will take place or reducing the effects of unavoidable disasters.. Mitigation can place before and after an emergency happens. Effective mitigation requires a sound understanding of risk management.
Preparedness: Preparedness is the state of being ready for action during a disaster or emergency. The preparedness phase is achieved and maintained through a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating and taking corrective action (The Preparedness Cycle). Evacuation plans and emergency shelters are examples of preparedness plans. Preparedness takes place before a disaster takes place.
Response: Response consists of actions taken to prevent death and further damage during an emergency situation. The response phase is putting the preparedness phase into action. Examples of response include evacuating a disaster area, seeking shelter, etc. Response activities take place during an emergency.
Recovery: Recovery is the ability to return to a state of normal function with minimal suffering and disruption of services following a disaster. Disaster and financial assistance are examples of recovery that aids individuals and communities. Recovery assistance can be provided at local, state, federal, or private sector levels. The recovery phase takes place following a disaster.
Civil Defense - the official predecessor to Emergency Preparedness.