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abrasion—an area of skin that has been scraped away.

acute—an illness that occurs suddenly, usually of short duration.

aftershock—an earthquake that follows the main or a previous earthquake.

air mass—a large volume of air having similar temperatures and water vapor content.

allergy—an immune response by the body to a substance to which it has become hypersensitive, such as pollen, fur, or a certain food.

anaphylactic reaction—a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction to a substance, such as certain foods or insect stings; symptoms include rashes, swelling, wheezing, passing out, chest tightness, trouble swallowing, vomiting, and diarrhea.

antibiotic—a medicine that kills bacteria. 

appendicitis—inflammation of the appendix; results in pain, fever, and nausea.

asbestos—a fire-resistant material used for insulation.

asbestosis—a chronic (long-lasting) lung disease caused by breathing in asbestos fibers over a long period of time; causes lung scarring and difficulty breathing.

ash—particles, including those larger than 2 mm, released during a volcanic eruption

when dissolved gases in magma expand nd escape violently into the atmosphere;

ash can cause serious respiratory problems.


asphyxiation—suffocation; not having enough oxygen to breathe.

asthma—a respiratory condition caused by irritation in

the bronchi of the lungs resulting in shortness of breath

and wheezing.  

atmosphere—the blanket of air that surrounds the earth.

avulsion—a type of wound that involves a partial or complete tearing away of skin and tissue beneath; avulsions bleed heavily and rapidly.




bacteria—a unicellular microorganism which have cells walls but no organelles or an organized nucleus; some bacteria are pathogenic (cause disease).

barometer—an instruments that measures air pressure; air pressure measurements help predict the weather.

blackout—a period of darkness cause by a failure of electrical power.


blood pressure—the pressure of the blood in the circulatory

system caused by the flow of blood pressing on blood vessel



boil order—an alert usually issued by a public health department or community water department that directs consumers to boil their public drinking water before use due to possible contamination by pathogens (disease-causing organisms).

brain herniation—a shifting of brain tissue that produces pressure inside the brain; usually caused by a head injury, stroke, or brain tumor.

bronchitis—inflammation of the membranes of the bronchial tubes usually resulting in coughing.

burn—an injury caused by exposure to heat or flame.

   1st degree burn—a burn that only affects the first layer of skin (epidermis); first degree burns usually do not break the skin or cause blisters to form.

   2nd degree burn—burns that affect the first layer of skin (epidermis) to the top of the second layer (dermis).

   3rd degree burn—a burn that affects the first, second and third layer of skin (hypodermis).

   4th degree burn—a burn that penetrates all three layers of skin and damages muscle, bone, nerves, and fat underneath.




carbon monoxide—a colorless, odorless gas that can cause illness and death.

cardiac arrest—an abrupt loss of heart function.

carcinogen—anything that causes cancer.

chronic—an illness that occurs over a long time or constantly recurs; for example, asthma is a chronic condition.

circulatory system—the body system responsible for transporting nutrients, oxygen and waste through the body; consists of blood, blood vessels and the heart. 

climate—weather conditions in an area in general over a long period of time.

closed fracture—a broken bone that does not penetrate the skin.

cloud—a formation in the atmosphere made up of many tiny drops of water. 

coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever)—a fungal disease caused by the Coccidiodes sp. fungus; the fungus is dormant (inactive) during long dry spells, but releases spores into the air during farming, an earthquake, windstorms, or construction that disrupts the soil.

cold front—the leading edge of a cold air mass.

concussion—an injury to the brain usually caused by a blow to the head; concussions can occur with no external signs of head trauma.

conservation—saving and protecting a natural resource, such as water.

COPD—Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease—any one of progressive lung diseases, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or asthma that result in breathlessness.

contusion—an injury in which the skin is not broken, but bleeding occurs under the skin; a bruise.

convergent plate boundary—where two crustal plates collide or come together.

CPR—Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation—a lifesaving procedure used when someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped; CPR involves attempting to get the heart to start beating again by compression of the chest. If someone is trained in CPR techniques, rescue breathing is often done in addition to chest compression.

cranial—pertaining to the skull.

crest—the level at which a river or stream peaks before it goes down.

cyanosis—discoloration of the skin (usually a gray, blue, or purple shade) caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood.

cyclone—a warm air mass that rotates around a center of strong low pressure; typhoons and hurricanes are types of cyclones.




debris—scattered pieces of material that have been broken down or destroyed.

dehydration—a condition when the body does not have enough fluid to function properly; dehydration can occur because of loss of water due to vomiting, diarrhea, fever, vigorous exercise, infections or if people do not drink enough water, especially in hot weather.

dengue fever—a viral disease spread by infected mosquitos; symptoms include high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and skin rash.

diarrhea—loose, watery bowel movement.

digestive system—the system of organs responsible for the breakdown of food into nutrients that can be absorbed and used by the body.

disaster—an event that causes great damage or loss of life, such as a hurricane, tornado, floods or wildfire.  

divergent plate boundary—where two crustal plates move apart.

drought—a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, leading to a shortage of water. 




earthquake—shaking of the earth because of plate tectonic activity or volcanic activity.

ECG—electrocardiogram-a test in which electrodes are placed at certain spots on the chest, arms and legs to test for heart function. 

emergency—a serious situation often requiring immediate attention.

electrocution—injury or death caused by an electric shock, such as a lightning strike.

Enhanced Fujita scale—scale used to measure tornado intensity based on wind speeds and related damage. The scale starts at an EF1 (65-85 miles per hour) and ends with an EF5 (over 200 miles per hour.)

EMT—emergency medical technicians— trained medical professionals that respond to medical emergencies before and during transportation to a hospital.

epicenter—the center, or focus, of an earthquake’s initial force; seismic waves are sent out spherically from this point.

ER—emergency room.

eruption—a sudden, violent explosion of a volcano.

evacuation—leaving an area that is unsafe due to a natural disaster or other emergency situation.

extreme heat—a weather condition that is defined as a long period (2 to 3 days) of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees; extreme heat conditions can cause serious health problems.


eye—the center of a hurricane; winds and rain die down in the eye but start up again very quickly as the outer wall passes over again.  




fault lines—cracks in rocks below the earth’s surface.

FEMA—Federal Emergency Management Agency-a federal government agency whose mission is to support citizens and first responders during an emergency.

fever—a body temperature that is higher than normal.

flood—an event when water overflows onto lands that are not normally covered by water.

flood plain—a strip of normally dry land nearby a stream, river, or lake that is covered by water during a flood.

flood stage—the level of water over the normal elevation in a body of water that causes flooding of an area.

flash flood—a flood that happens within minutes or hours of heavy rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or when city drains overflow.

flood warning—a message that flooding will occur soon; move to higher ground or evacuate immediately.

flood watch—a message that flooding is possible; listen to local radio or TV news and weather reports for more information.

fire extinguisher—a device that sprays foam and helps put out small fires.


fog—a thick cloud of tiny water droplets suspended in the atmosphere at or near the earth’s surface.


fracture—a break in a bone.  

fungus—an organism that produces spores, feeds on organic matter, and includes the molds, yeasts, mushrooms, and toadstools; some fungi are pathogenic.

funnel—a structure formed by a tornado that is wider at the top and smaller at the bottom.




giardiasis—a disease caused by infection by the protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia; usually caused by drinking water that contaminated and not filtered or chlorinated. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea.


groundwater—underground water in soil or pores and crevices in rock.




hail—a form of solid precipitation; pellets of frozen precipitation.

hazardous material—any item or substance which can potentially harm people, animals, or the environment.

heart attack—a medical event that occurs when an artery supplying the heart with blood or oxygen becomes blocked and the heart tissue does not receive enough oxygen or nutrients; can also occur due to stress. 

heat cramps—the first stage of heat illness caused by body overheating; symptoms include muscle cramps, very heavy sweating, fatigue and thirst.

heat exhaustion—a serious condition resulting from body overheating; symptoms include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea and vomiting, and cool, moist skin. 

heat lightning—lightning seen from a thunderstorm that is too far away for the thunder to be heard.

heat stroke—a critical condition that results when body temperature is too high; symptoms include fever, irrational behavior, extreme confusion, dry, hot and red skin, rapid breathing, rapid pulse, seizures and unconsciousness.  

headwater—the source of a stream or reservoir; the small streams that come together to form a river.

hemorrhage—abnormal internal or external discharge of blood

hepatitis—a disease usually caused by a virus that results in an inflammation of the liver and a loss of liver function.

hives—eruptions of very itchy spots on the skin, usually associated with allergies.

humidity—the amount of water vapor in the air.

hurricane—a violent tropical storm that develops over warm ocean water and produces a swirling column of air; hurricane winds rotate at least 74 miles an hour.  

hydrologic cycle—the water cycle.

hypertension—high blood pressure.

hyperthermia—a dangerous condition when the body is too hot.

hypotension—low blood pressure.

hypothermia—having a dangerously low body temperature.




infection—the presence of disease-causing organisms in a host.

infectious disease—a disease caused by bacteria, virus, fungi, or protozoan and transmitted through various methods, such as insects, rodents, air, or droplets.

inhaler—a device used for administering a drug to be breathed in to relieve a respiratory illness, such as asthma or lung congestion.   

insect borne disease—diseases transmitted by insects.

integumentary system—in the human body, the system consisting of the skin, hair, and nails; the integumentary system helps protect the body from injury and infection.








laceration—a cut in the skin that results in the tearing of soft body tissue; is often an irregular or jagged wound.

landslide—a movement of rock, debris, or soil down a slope.

lava—molten rock that comes out of a volcano.

leaching—the process by which soluble materials in the soil are washed into a lower layer of soil and may be carried away by water.

lead contamination—lead that has been emitted into air, drinking water, soil, dust, consumer products, or food; lead contamination can cause serious health problems, especially in young children.

levee—a natural or manmade earthen barrier along the edge of a stream, lake or river built to stop the overflow of a river.

lockjaw—a condition caused by an infection from the bacteria that cause tetanus; it causes severe muscle contractions in your jaw and neck.

lightning—a sudden electric discharge in the atmosphere usually during a thunderstorm.

limited resource—a natural supply that can become in more scarce and one that cannot be replaced easily if it is used up; fossil fuels are examples of limited resources.

Lyme disease—a bacterial infection from the bite of an infected tick; symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, a stiff neck and sometimes a bull’s eye-looking rash.




meteorology—the study of the Earth’s atmosphere, especially how the atmosphere affects weather.

mold—a type of fungus that grows in multicellular filaments; molds are a health hazard and can cause respiratory problems.

mildew—a thin, whitish coating of a fungus that can grow on damp material; mildew can be a health risk that causes health problems in both allergic and non-allergic people. 

molten—made liquid by heat; melted.

MRSA—a Staphylococcus (staph) infection


municipal water—the public water system that provides usable water to a community.

muscular system—the body system made up of skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscles

which allow for movement, maintains posture, and circulates blood throughout the body.




natural disaster—a natural event that causes considerable damage or loss of life.

nervous system—the body system made up of nerves, spinal cord, and brain that receives stimuli and transmits impulses throughout the body and to the brain.




oil spill—a release of oil into the environment due to human activity; oil spills can cause environmental hazards that result in health risks.


open fracture—a broken bone that penetrates the skin.

oxygen—a gas in our atmosphere that we breathe to survive; fires need oxygen in order to burn.



pandemic—worldwide spread of disease.

paramedic—a person trained to provide emergency medical care and to transport patients to a hospital or other healthcare facility. 

pathogen—an organism that causes disease.

potable water—water that is suitable for drinking.

precipitation—water that falls as rain, snow, sleet, hail, dew or frost.

pulse rate—the number of times your heart beats in one minute; normal resting heart rate for adults is 60-100 beats per minute.

puncture wound—a type of wound made when a sharp, pointy object, such as a nail or an animal’s teeth, break deeply through the skin.

pus—a yellowish-whitish or brownish-yellow thickened fluid that is present at the site of an infection.

pyroclastic flow—a dangerous, thick, fast-moving and hot avalanche of gas, solids, and liquids coming from a volcano; flows can move up to 50-100 miles per hour.





rabies—a viral disease transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, such as a dog, bat, or raccoon; rabies is almost always fatal after symptoms begin.

rectum—the part of the body that begins at the end of the large intestine and ends at the anus (opening to the outside of the body).

reservoir—a natural or man-made pond, lake or basin used for storage and control of water.

respiratory arrest—occurs when breathing stops.

respiration rate—the number of breaths taken in one minute; normal respiration rate for a resting adult is 12 to 20 breaths per minute.

respiratory system—the body system responsible for taking in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide.

river—a natural stream of water larger than a brook or creek.



Saffir-Simpson scale—a scale used to measure hurricane intensity based on measurements of air pressure, wind speed, storm surge and damage potential. The scale starts at a Category 1 and ends with a Category 5.

saline water—water that contains significant amounts of dissolved salts.

scald—a burn caused by hot liquid or steam.

sleet—icy precipitation, often mixed with rain or snow.

seismic activity—energy that comes from earthquakes, such as tremors, quakes, and shakes.

seismograph—an instrument that measures earthquake waves.

seizure—a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disruption in the brain; seizures cause changes in behavior, movements, and levels of consciousness.

severe weather—dangerous weather phenomena such as thunderstorms, downbursts, tornadoes, waterspouts, cyclones, hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms, and dust storms.

sewage—liquid and solid waste matter usually carried off by sewers.

shock—a dangerous medical condition involving loss of vital body processes; usually cause by severe crushing injuries, hemorrhage, or burns.


skeletal system—the system consisting of the body’s framework; the bones and connective tissues which protect and support body tissues and internal organs.

smoke alarm—a sensor that sounds an alarm when it senses smoke.

storm surge—heavy waves and high water caused by high wind and a lot of rain; a storm surge from a hurricane can be dangerous.

suture—to close a wound such as a cut by sewing the edges together with stitches or using metal staples.




temperature—a measure of how hot or cold something is.

tetanus—a serious disease caused by a bacterium that affects your nervous system, causing painful muscle contractions, especially of your jaw and neck muscles.

thunder—a loud rumbling or sudden clamp of noise heard after a lightning flash and caused by the expansion of rapidly heated air.

thunderstorm—a rain storm in which you hear thunder; since thunder comes from lightning, all thunderstorms have lightning.

tornado—a violent windstorm that forms a funnel-shaped column of dust and air; moves at speeds from 25-90 miles an hour and can be very destructive.


toxin—a poisonous substance.


transform fault boundary—where two crustal plate slide past each other.

trauma—an emotional or physical state resulting from a stressful event or physical injury.

triage—the process by which wounded people are assessed to decide the order of treatment; more serious patients or casualties are treated before less serious wounds or illnesses.

troposphere—the layer of atmosphere closest to Earth’s surface.  

tsunami—giant ocean waves caused by large earthquakes and landslides that occur near or under the ocean.





virus—a small infectious agent that only replicates inside living cells of an organism.

vital signs—measurements such as pulse, temperature, respiration rate, and blood pressure that are an indication of a patient’s health and body functions.

volcano—a mountain that has lava (hot, liquid rock) or ash coming out from a magma chamber under the ground.



watershed—the land area that drains water to a stream, river, or lake.

weather—the state of the atmosphere at one place and at one time, for example temperature, wind, rain, sunshine.

wheezing—breathing that has a whistling or rumbling sound in the chest.

wound—an injury to living tissue caused by a cut, blow, or other type of damage.

wildfire—a large, destructive uncontrolled fire that spreads quickly.  

wind—moving air



x-ray— type of electromagnetic wave that can be used to create images of structures inside your body, such as a bone. The images show parts of the body in different shades of black and white.


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