S112 A Qualitative Examination of Barriers that Prevent Protective Actions During Severe Weather Events

Sunday, 22 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Cassandra A Shivers, Howard Univ., Washington, DC

Severe weather events require people to take protective actions against the potentially deadly conditions that may occur.  However, some people choose to disregard warnings issued, even in the face of obvious dangers and potentially deadly repercussions.  Why?  The present research aims to identify (a) potential barriers that might prevent people from performing recommended protective actions during hypothetical, potentially deadly severe weather scenarios, and (b) expectations about what may happen if these protective actions are performed.

Participants are Howard University undergraduates (data collection is ongoing).  The data discussed here are part of a larger study; only a subset of variables will be discussed.  On an electronic questionnaire, participants read five hypothetical natural disaster and severe weather scenarios each containing two actions that could be performed in the face of the threat: one protective action, such as evacuating, and one other action, such as staying behind to help others.  For each scenario, participants are asked to indicate what barriers may hinder them from performing each action (e.g., not evacuating due to lack of transportation or money) and what they think will happen if they perform each action.  Lastly, participants complete standard demographic items, including previous experience with each of the natural disasters and severe weather events.  A content analysis will be performed to identify the most frequently cited and relevant barriers and outcome expectations.

This study is a precursor to examining the roles of barriers to action in individual’s self-protective decisions during severe weather events.  It is imperative to first identify relevant barriers to action.  Identifying these barriers is also practically important for emergency managers and government officials; this knowledge will help them improve disaster plans and increase the likelihood people will adhere to warnings issued during these events.

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