Danger – concept causes, examples, types, and risk

We explain what danger is, its various causes, examples and what types exist. Also, how it relates to risk.

There are various everyday languages ​​with which to warn third parties about the danger.

What is the danger?

By danger we understand, according to the dictionary, “the risk or the imminent contingency that something bad happens”, that is, the real possibility that we suffer some physical, emotional or other type of harm.

With this word, from Latin dominus (“Lord”, “power to harm”) passing through the French dangier, we also call the places, situations or things that put us at risk, that is, dangerous things, or that put our property or the environment at risk. This risk can be real and imminent (that is, in the short term), or possible and abstract (in the medium or long term).

In life, we are normally surrounded by danger. The contagion of diseases, domestic accidents, bad emotional decisions, bankruptcy, a terrorist attack, a fall in the bathroom, the list of imaginable dangers is infinite and diverse, but the urgency with which we perceive them always depends on the context in which that we meet and our ability to perceive said risk as probable, possible or imminent.

In fact, we have designed a whole series of everyday languages ​​with which to warn third parties about unsuspected or imperceptible dangers, such as traffic signs (danger of collapse, for example, or dangerous curves), or warnings of chemical, toxic risk or biological in laboratories and hazardous waste.

The sense of danger, moreover, linked to fear and anguish, is a key element in the survival of the species, especially in the wild world where predators abound. In the world of humanity, instead, prevention and planning are collective responses to reduce danger and try to live in a safer environment.

Types of dangers

danger guys
Public dangers, like epidemics, put an entire population at risk.

The way to classify the dangers is taking into account their imminence, that is, the real risk they entail, as follows:

  • Latent dangers. Those that are in a state of latency, that is, they could be capable of causing damage and ailments, but have not yet manifested themselves and there are no signs that they are occurring. For example, a set of highly flammable waste that is far from any heat source is a latent danger, as there is no real and immediate reason to think that a fire could occur, but there is still the future possibility that it will occur in some way. .
  • Potential dangers. Those that have the potential to cause damage and suffering, even if they have not yet occurred, that is, they exist in a real and concrete way, but have not happened. For example, an old World War II bomb that is discovered buried under a park is a potential hazard, because it has not detonated and there is no way to know if it will, but it could do so and hurt many people.
  • Active dangers. Those that are occurring continuously, causing damage as time goes by, and that merit some kind of action to counteract them. For example: a forest fire that progresses devouring more and more trees in its path, generating all kinds of toxic gases and destroying the local fauna and flora.
  • Mitigated dangers. Those that have already been identified, and for which measures have been taken to reduce or prevent their damage, that is, whose consequences have been mitigated through prevention strategies. For example: before a hill whose structure is at risk of collapse, a retaining wall is built to reduce the area affected in the event of such collapse.
  • Public dangers. Those that put the population of a city or a state at open risk, without discriminating between who may be affected or why. For example: a highly contagious epidemic is a public health hazard, which if not addressed in time can turn into a catastrophe.

Risk and danger

In the world of prevention and planning, a distinction is made between categories of risk and danger, depending on the degree of control that humans can exercise over potentially harmful activity.

Therefore, we talk about danger to refer to an element or condition intrinsic to a process or activity, and that can interrupt it or damage life or property. While a risk depends on the probabilities and the ability to control a hazard already identified.

In other words: a gas leak is a danger, but we run the risk of explosion and fire if we do not attend to it in time. A radioactive element is a danger, but we run the risk of radioactive poisoning only if we do not take the respective safeguards, such as an insulating suit and lead containers.

Causes of danger

danger causes
Some activities are dangerous and therefore require special protection.

The danger can have many causes, but in general they can be organized into three categories, according to its origin:

  • Natural dangers, when they are derived from elements, processes and dynamics of natural functioning, whether they are obvious or unexpected dangers. An example of this is an active volcano near a city, whose risk of eruption puts the lives of thousands of people in jeopardy.
  • Anthropic dangers, when they come from human activities or are a consequence of the human lifestyle on the planet. The best example of this is climate change that affects the entire planet, and whose dizzying speed is a consequence of the accumulation of industrial gases in the atmosphere.
  • Dangers of an activity, those that have to do with the immediate performance of a trade, an activity or a task. In this case the danger ceases as soon as these activities cease. An example of this is the risk of burning a firefighter runs when putting out a fire.