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Safe as Houses: Adapting to Living with Wildfire and Earthquake Hazards

Paton, Douglas, Tedim, Fantina, Buergelt, Petra T. and Johnston, David (2010). Safe as Houses: Adapting to Living with Wildfire and Earthquake Hazards. In: Stewart C. 4th Australasian Hazards Management Conference, Wellington, New Zealand, 11-12 August 2010.

Document type: Conference Paper
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Author Paton, Douglas
Tedim, Fantina
Buergelt, Petra T.
Johnston, David
Title Safe as Houses: Adapting to Living with Wildfire and Earthquake Hazards
Conference Name 4th Australasian Hazards Management Conference
Conference Location Wellington, New Zealand
Conference Dates 11-12 August 2010
Conference Publication Title From Warnings to Effective Response and Recovery : Proceedings of the 4th Australasian Hazards Management Conference
Editor Stewart C.
Place of Publication New Zealand
Publisher Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd.
Publication Year 2010
Volume Number GNS Science Miscellaneous Series 33
ISBN 978-0-478-19786-0   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
ISSN 1177-2441   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Field of Research 0502 - Environmental Science and Management
Abstract When disaster strikes, people’s houses can play a significant role in helping protect their inhabitants from harm. This makes identifying the house characteristics that mitigate hazard effects and encouraging their adoption significant risk management objectives. While issues of housing readiness (e.g., securing the house to its foundation, fastening the roof, securing chimneys, using fireproof materials, ensuring that roof coverings fit tightly so there are no openings for sparks and embers to gain entry into the house, screening vents, eves and underfloor spaces with metal fly wire to prevent ember entry), such activities tend not to be afforded a prominent position in readiness information. Indeed, in the absence of secure and protective housing, other preparations (e.g., stored food and water, household response plans) may be rendered useless if inadequately prepared houses mean that the inhabitants do not survive the initial impact. Having a house that survived the hazard impact increases the likelihood of people being available to assist recovery efforts in their community, facilitates the maintenance of the social networks that assist social recovery, and reduce repair, rebuilding and insurance costs. Encouraging people to develop the capacity of their house to offer protection is thus a vital cog in the risk management wheel. The fact that levels of adoption of house protective measures are low identifies a need to develop strategies to facilitate adoption. This paper argues that it is how people interpret hazards, mitigation measures, and sources of information that determines levels of adoption of house protective measures. The results demonstrate how beliefs about the effectiveness of house protection measures, community problem solving characteristics and people’s relationship with sources of hazard information interact to influence levels of adoption. Analyses of data from wildfire and earthquake hazards in Portugal and New Zealand respectively inform discussion of the applicability of findings to different hazards and countries. In addition, comparison of data on a frequently-occurring (wildfire) hazard with that from an infrequently-occurring (earthquake) hazard affords an opportunity to test the theoretical prediction that the role of trust in risk management is a function of hazard frequency and community familiarity with the hazard. The findings in both locations highlight the role of mainstream community characteristics and competencies in risk management. Consequently, theimplications for developing public education programs that integrate risk management and community engagement strategies are discussed.
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Created: Tue, 17 Jan 2017, 14:25:31 CST by Marion Farram