Sunday, 10 January 2016
Hall E ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
The impending threats of natural hazards have become a major part of our daily lives. Every year, thousands of weather forecasts are disseminated to inform, warn, and prepare citizens regarding the forthcoming activity of weather hazards. The United States alone is susceptible to over eight different types of natural hazards throughout each of its geological regions. Hazards such as floods, earthquakes, snowstorms, and hurricanes in recent years have caused billions of dollars in damage and thousands of deaths. In order to reduce the impact of these hazards, effective risk communication is imperative. A risk population's ability to receive and perceive warning messages has a direct influence on the protective action behavior they choose to engage in during times of disaster. The purpose of this study was to assess the degree to which the Protective Action Decision Model could be utilized to explain risk communication and protective action behaviors as it relates to gender. In so doing, this study assessed the impact of informational warnings, protective action recommendations, and receiver characteristics on the protective actions by men and women during Hurricane Katrina. Gender was especially examined to see if it would have any significant impact on whether or not an individual chose to evacuate prior to Katrina making landfall. Furthermore, it is important to note that an individual can take protective actions and not evacuate. This is not to suggest that protective actions take precedence over evacuating, especially in such extreme cases like Katrina, but this study does seek to shed light on how at risk populations prepare when evacuating is not an option. Results from this study revealed that gender did not have a significant impact on taking protective actions. Although women were more likely to take protective actions than men, in some cases the differences were not that significant. However, results from this study were consistent with the PADM in assessing protective actions based on informational warnings, protective action recommendations, and some receiver characteristics as all three components were found to be significant in relation to at least half of the protective actions recommended.
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