Knowledge of the territory and danger thresholds for the various risks establishes the basis, not only for the forecasting activity, but also for determining the directions and lines of the various types of possible prevention intervention.

The members of the Civil Protection Department are responsible, at the various levels, for determining and indicating the interventions useful for keeping down the probability of disastrous events occurring or at least to limiting the possible damage. It is just as important that they promote actions of making the local people aware of the risks, that is the first form of civil defence.

Forecasting and prevention programmes. As regards this, the forecasting and prevention programmes are the instrument to determine the intervention priorities and the times with which the civil defence actions should be actuated, according to the danger of an event, to the vulnerability of the territory and to availability of funds. The Civil Protection Department lays down the guidelines for preparing forecasting and prevention programmes, the Regions then prepare them and the Provinces and the Municipalities put them into practice with forecasting activity and prevention interventions.

The prevention activities cover various areas from the creation of monitoring systems of the phenomenon, to determining the risks on the territory, to creating systems to reduce risks. This is, for example, the case of the seismic classification of the Italian territory which has allowed the anti-seismic laws to be outlined for building work.
Disaster management. Programmes are the assumption for the definition of disaster management, that means the operating procedures to be actuated in the event of something happening in a certain scenario. Disaster management is distinguished by risk and refer to specific areas of the Italia territory. The Department prepares disaster management for type c events, in other words those whose nature and extent requires the intervention of the central bodies of the State. The Regions provide the guidelines for preparing the provincial plans for type b events, and the Municipalities prepare the plans for type a events, according to the risk for their territory.

Information, training and drills. One of the main aspects of prevention is making the people aware of local risks, of what to do in the event of danger and of how to help the relief work during a calamity. Regarding this the Civil Protection Department promotes information campaigns and activities, also with the collaboration of other institutions and associations.

The Department also promotes training activity in close collaboration with the territorial authorities to favour the growth of a “civil defence culture”. The activities are focussed on volunteers, on the "territorially competent levels" that means regions, provinces, mountain communities and schools.

Prevention activity is performed with drills too because the effectiveness and the validity of an intervention model to cope with an emergency, the plans, the decision making procedures and information management are assessed. Drills are promoted on each level of the National Service and when they are organised by the Department, they also envisage the involvement of other countries. 

Disaster management is the series of intervention operative procedures to cope with any expected calamity in a particular territory.

Disaster management assimilates the forecasting and prevention plan and is the instrument which allows the authorities to prepare and coordinate the relief interventions to protect the population and the heritage in a risk area. It has the objective of guaranteeing the maintenance of life, thrown into turmoil by a situation which means serious physical and psychological discomfort, at “civil” levels by any means possible.

Structure of disaster management
The plan consists of three fundamental parts:
1. General part: it includes all the information on the features and on the structure of the territory.
2. Lines of planning: they establish the objectives to achieve in order to provide a suitable civil protection response to any emergency situation, and the skills of the various operators.
3. Intervention model: assigns the decision making responsibilities to the various levels of command and control, uses the resources in a rational manner, defines a communication system which allows a constant exchange of information.

A plan for the disaster management operations is a document which:
• assigns the responsibility to the organisations and to the individuals to perform specific actions, planned in time and in places, in an emergency which exceeds the capacity of response or the competence of a single organisation;
• it describes how the actions and the relations between organisations are coordinated;
• it describes how to protect the people and property in emergency and disaster situations;
• it identifies the personnel, the equipment, the skills, the funds and the other resources available to use during the response operations;
• it identifies the initiatives to be established to improve the living conditions of any people evacuated from their homes.

Disaster management is a continually updated document which must take account of the evolution of the territorial layout and of the variations in the expected scenarios. Drills also contribute to updating the plan because they confirm the content of the plan and assesses the operating and managerial capacity of the personnel. The training actually helps the personnel to be employed in an emergency to familiarise themselves with the responsibilities and jobs to be performed in an emergency.

A plan must be sufficiently flexible to be used in all the emergencies, including unexpected ones, and simple so that it rapidly becomes operative.