Disasters, Emergencies and Crisis

Let’s talk about disasters, emergencies and crisis in English.

disasters emergency crisis

The great Conemaugh-Valley disaster-flood by Library of Congress is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Disasters, Emergencies and crisis. All three words are bad news, right? The refer to something bad, that happens without warning.

So, what’s the difference?

A crisis is a time of sudden, intense danger and turmoil. The threat feels overwhelming and out of control.

An emergency is a critical situation, that requires immediate attention.

A disaster is widespread destruction.

Let’s practice our English skills and expand our vocabulary, in order to be more prepared to face whatever comes.

Warm Up

Select a person in the painting above. Describe what happened to you in 5 sentences.

How many things? – Take turns suggesting objects that you might need in an emergency.


Passive Voice Exercise – Change these passive sentences to active. (Intermediate +)

Conversation and Speaking

The Police – Message in a Bottle
Watch the video.
Read the lyrics.

Our World in Data – Practice reading and discussing charts and graphs.

Conversation Questions
1.) Tell us about a disaster movie/series.
2.) What for you would be the scariest natural disaster to be in?
3.) What disasters and emergencies are likely to occur in your area?
4.) What are emergency services like in your community?
5.) Are you prepared for an emergency?
6.) What should you do if… (add emergency situation.)

A Video Speaking Activity
Watch the video about the rabbit in an avalanche. Imagine that you are commentator. What do you say?


10 of the Deadliest Natural Disasters – Select one of the disasters from this LiveScience article.
1.) Set a timer for 15 minutes.
2.) Read about the disaster, and write a short essay within your time-limit.
3.) Set the timer for 5 more minutes. Correct and edit your writing within the time-limit.
4.) Present it to the class.


Breaking News English – Extreme weather

Why does the US lead the world in weather disasters?
1.) Listen and read along
2.) Report what you learned.