January 29, 2013
Database Spotlight -- Public Warnings and Evacuations: A Study of the 2009 California Station Fire
A survey of residents of the area impacted by a large-scale 2009 wildfire revealed that just more than 60 percent of respondents who received an evacuation order during this fire actually evacuated from their home. The focus of the survey was to understand the impact of public warnings on the behaviors and actions of individuals in the midst of a natural disaster.
Led by START researchers Kathleen Smarick and Gary LaFree, the project research team designed the survey and interview protocol. The survey gauges several factors, including how respondents were impacted by the station fire, their attitudes toward formal evacuation messages and procedures as spearheaded by local, state, and government entities, how they responded to said evacuation messages and procedures, what they perceive to be the most effective media for dispensing emergency evacuation information and standard demographic questions.
The survey responses reveal that frequency, communication channels, and content of public warnings, such as evacuation orders, have a significant impact on public protective-action taking.
The survey and data collected are made available through START on its Dataverse site at click here.