CU on the Weekend: What Do You Do When the Earth Shakes? Children, Adults, and Generational Gaps in Protective Action Behavior
This CU on the Weekend lecture will highlight the immediate behavioral responses of children and adults during disasters. Understanding how people actually react during a crisis can help government officials and school leaders improve drills and messaging, refine risk communication strategies, and, ultimately, reduce injury and loss of life.
The research: Did you know that 45 U.S. states and territories are at risk for earthquakes, and that tens of millions of Americans live in seismically active regions? What if you were caught in an earthquake? What would you do if you started to feel shaking? At present, many schools offer regular drills to train young people and adult staff on the appropriate recommended protective actions to take during an actual hazard event. Yet, little is known about whether this guidance is followed in schools and homes by children and adults for earthquakes as well as other natural hazards. To begin to fill this gap, a research team led by Professor Lori Peek at the Natural Hazards Center examined the behaviors of children and adults during the 2018 Anchorage, Alaska earthquake and the 2019 Ridgecrest, California earthquake sequence. Their team traveled to visit earthquake affected school districts and conducted in-depth interviews with more than 100 school staff, students, parents, emergency managers and others.
Peek will share what her team found children and adults did in the earthquakes, as well as the factors that shaped whether they took the correct recommended protective actions. She will also explain how the findings from this study can help inform our understanding of risk communication and preparedness for other hazards such as wildfires, floods, and tornados.