Death modes from a loss of energy infrastructure continuity in a community setting

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    When power fails, deaths and injuries do occur. The numbers are usually very small unless the loss of critical infrastructure service continuity occurs simultaneously with some other hazardous event such as a heatwave. This paper uses a systematic review of literature to identify how people die from a loss of electricity or gas in a community setting. Nineteen plausible causal trains of events, known as energy service continuity death modes, are identified where an energy loss is the harm mechanism closest to the underlying cause of death. A number of these death modes are well recognised, but others are rarely noted. These death modes are those that arise in a domestic environment, rather than those that arise from a loss of energy continuity to industrial, medical and other facilities as these have unique death modes. The consolidated, evidence-backed list of plausible energy service continuity death modes presented in this paper will be valuable to emergency response organisations tasked with protecting public safety during energy loss incidents. By examining the list, these organisations can take a more comprehensive and anticipatory approach to preventing deaths.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)587-608
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Oct 2013


    • Critical infrastructure protection
    • Disaster mitigation
    • Emergency response
    • Energy infrastructure
    • Mortality


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