Preparing For The Inevitable: Environmental Risk Perceptions And Disaster Preparedness

August 2005 (VOL. 23, NO. 2)

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Do risk perceptions of environmental hazards lead to preparing for them? Employing data from a national urban household sample (814) in Israel, the link between risk perceptions and preparedness were examined for natural, industrial, technological, accidental and non-conventional war disasters. A factor analysis generated six risk components conditional on the social familiarity with the potential victim as well as disaster-specific events and four preparedness components reflecting, provisions, skills, planning and protection. The ‘risk-preparedness’ association based on this matrix of components was inconsistent having few statistically significant correlations, some even negative. Regression coefficients used to predict preparedness actions due to risk perceptions were also only partially successful. Apparently, the impact of risk perceptions on preparedness is limited to specific environmental disasters and strongest for those preparedness behaviors that are more immediate, concrete and easy to achieve. These findings have direct application for disaster managers involved in risk communication and public education of disasters.