Keywords: built environment, natural disasters, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, hazard mitigation, natural hazards, risk perception, regional risks, risk assessment, risk management, mitigation planning, disaster planning, emergency planning, death, injury, economic loss, dread, familiarity
Perception of risk of natural hazards: a hazard mitigation plan framework
A new approach is presented for policy makers to incorporate sociological aspects of human risk perception into their hazard mitigation plans. Previous methods for creating these plans generally used equivalent dollar losses from natural hazard events as the statistic by which to make decisions. Such an approach fails to take into consideration how people view natural hazards, possibly leading to lack of public support and compliance with emergency plans. Such a situation could exacerbate the consequences of a disaster. In this paper, new graphs are presented that combine the typical risk assessment factors, such as death, injury and economic loss, with human perception of risk. The framework includes risk perception by graphing natural hazards on the axes of dread and familiarity. These two variables have been shown in previous studies by social psychologists to explain the largest variance of an individual's risk perception. Understanding how the public perceives the risk for various natural hazards can assist decision makers in developing and communicating policy decisions.