Barbados is brushed by tropical storms, hurricanes and tropical depressions frequently. Most recently, hurricane Lili damaged over 300 houses in September 2002 and Ivan killed one person and damaged over 300 buildings in September 2004. The most devastating hurricane of the past century was Janet in 1955, which killed 35 people, destroyed more than 8000 homes and left around 20,000 people homeless. The secondary effects of Hurricanes and tropical storms, however, such as wind damage, inland flooding, landslides and coastal surge are still of concern.
Other natural hazards to threaten Barbados are flooding, landslides, drought and soil erosion. The active submarine volcano Kick 'em Jenny, located at 260 km southwest of the island, poses a threat of tsunamis.
The island is also prone to manmade hazards such as hazardous waste. Illegal solid waste disposal threatens to contaminate aquifers. The pollution of coastal waters from waste disposal by ships is an issue. Oil spills are considered to be a major threat because of the importance of the environment to tourism and the economy.
The Caribbean Uniform Building Code is currently used as the national model. A specific national code is being designed and a Barbados Building Authority is being set up in order to monitor and enforce the code.
Some hazard mapping has been conducted, yet updating remains a challenge. Vulnerability and capacity assessments have been done for shelters, police stations, fire stations and hospitals. As for early warning, the Caribbean Meteorology and Hydrology Institute (CMHI) located in Barbados serves as a weather systems monitor and flood gauges have been established in those areas at risk.
The Department of Emergency Management (DEM) is responsible for the development and implementation of the Emergency Management Programme in Barbados. It has the responsibility for coordinating emergency management activities. The Department came into being on April 1, 2007 by the statutory legislation of the Emergency Management Act 2006. It replaces the Central Emergency Relief Organisation Secretariat which dated back to the 1940's when an organization for Hurricane Relief was formed under the authority and direction of the Governor. At that time the main emphasis was on relief.