I Have a Snickers Bar in the Trunk of My Car: Student Narratives of Disaster Risk, Fear, Preparedness, and Reflections on Union University

August 2011 (VOL. 29, NO. 2)

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This research examines college students’ experience, risk perceptions, fear of and preparedness for disasters and differences in female and male views. We conducted focus groups with students about their experience, risk perceptions, fear and preparedness, their reactions to the February 6th, 2008 Union University tornado. We found that students are generally aware of the risks they face, usually have limited experience with disasters, are not well prepared, could not identify how their university was prepared, adopt fatalistic attitudes about the importance of preparedness and believe the university will take care of them. Also, women were much more likely to report being fearful. Many students were shocked about the Union University tornado and began asking more questions about ways their university is prepared.