Disaster preparedness & recovery

IEC International Standards, together with conformity assessment, help strengthen disaster resilience of infrastructures and cities.

Standards and conformity assessment build resilience

IEC Standards, together with testing and verification, help mitigate disaster risks and accelerate disaster recovery, reducing overall disaster impact. IEC work also provides the globally relevant solid technical foundation to make new, sustainable energy solutions broadly marketable.

Advanced warning

In some situations, electronic equipment may be able to give some advance warning of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis. Examples include:

  • Laser equipment emitting beams that can detect tectonic plates movements. International Standards for equipment (including systems) incorporating lasers are developed by IEC TC 76: Optical radiation safety and laser equipment;
  • Seismometers pick up, measure and record vibrations in the Earth’s crust through electronic sensors, including accelerometers, amplifiers and even lasers and interferometers in more modern optically-based devices. International Standards for a variety of sensors used in seismometers (and other devices) are prepared by IEC SC 47E: Discrete semiconductor devices. International Standards for interferometers used for the calibration of optical frequency measurement instruments, are prepared by IEC TC 86: Fibre optics;
  • Gas detectors pick up increased levels of radon gas emissions escaping from cracks in the Earth’s crust. International Standards for gas detectors are developed by IEC TC 31: Equipment for explosive atmospheres

To help prevent nuclear accidents or to assess health risks in the aftermath of an accident, work by IEC TC 45: Nuclear instrumentation, and its SCs is essential. They develop International Standards for a wide range of instrumentation used in the nuclear industry, including control and electrical systems, and of the radiation protection instrumentation that is useful for controlling radiation levels in nuclear power installations, in case of an accident and to prevent the smuggling of radioactive material.

IEC TC 31 and its SCs develop and maintain International Standards “relating to equipment for use where there is a hazard due to the possible presence of explosive atmospheres of gases, vapours, mists or combustible dusts.”

The IEC also set up IECEx, the System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres. IEC TC 31 Standards and IECEx Certificates are internationally recognized and widely adopted by many industries. In addition, IECEx has been endorsed by the United Nations, through the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), as the recommended model for regulating the safety of equipment and persons working in areas where the potential for an explosive atmosphere may exist.

Microgrids for disaster preparedness

While they are often seen as a means of encouraging the take up of renewable energy and addressing challenges of peak demand, microgrids can make a significant contribution to disaster preparedness and recovery.  By relying on a variety of generators, a microgrid system avoids many of the single-point-of-failure issues of the traditional electricity grid. Key suggestions encourage the operation of microgrids and the implementation of standards to assist in disaster relief planning. Business and electricity continuity planning, as well as electricity continuity systems, are examined as solutions for disaster preparedness and recovery.


Microgrids for disaster preparedness and recovery