Why some people won't evacuate: FEMA research

phys.org | 10/11/2018 | Staff
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With Hurricane Michael threatening more than 300 miles of the Gulf Coast, prompting emergency declarations in more than 100 counties, the results of research done by Dr. Stacy Willett, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) expert, can provide insight into why some people "just won't leave" when advised to evacuate.

In her research done after Hurricane Katrina, Willett, a professor in the Department of Disaster Science and Emergency Services, identified six major reasons why people ignore mandatory evacuation notices—age, gender, previous experience, cost, pets and the influence of others. She also offers possible solutions for evacuees, their families and emergency officials.

Age - Determinant - Individual - Likelihood - Evacuation

Age is one major determinant in an individual's likelihood to obey evacuation orders. Older residents, she found, are more likely to ignore warnings due to ingrained habits, medical and mobility restrictions, and attachment to irreplaceable records, photos and other heirlooms. Tip: Families in hurricane hotspots can plan ahead, duplicating records whenever possible and pressuring older relatives to evacuate.

Gender, too, plays a role. Men are more likely to ignore orders than women, unsurprising considering other studies that linked gender and risk aversion, Willett explains. Women are not only more likely to obey warnings, but to take their families with them, especially in families with children. In fact, public service announcements sometimes target family matriarchs to increase the odds that the entire household will take heed, she points out.

Families - Fence - Experience - Evacuation - Orders

Families on the fence about evacuating can also be swayed by their personal experience; overzealous evacuation orders in the past can lead a family to choose to wait out the storm, while family deaths, injury, or...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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