Building and Sustaining Preparedness: A National Campaign

take human nature into account

It strikes me that the biggest barrier to building and sustaining preparedness is human nature. When incidents happen in rapid succession (example: repeated tornados in the Mid-West) people suffer from burnout/ disaster fatigue. When incidents carry high consequences but low likelihood or long inter-incident intervals, people dismiss the risk as being too remote and unlikely and get complacent. In my opinion, this makes it imperative to tap the best minds in risk communication to frame the message and help design a campaign to build and sustain preparedness. Maintaining interest and resolve of private citizens will require an ongoing perception of appreciable risk. It is important to improve understanding among average residents and small and medium sized businesses of the risks posed by various hazards to lives and property in their own community. It seems to make sense to work from a more positive self- interest perspective rather than altruism. You will thereby increase support for public and private expenditures to invest in prevention and mitigation. Build on awareness of hazards perceived as occurring relatively frequently (blizzards in snow belt, earthquakes in CA, hurricanes in Southeast, flooding in Mid-west) or events with catastrophic impact and geographic proximity (dam failure, terrorist attack in large city). For most communities, this will mean increasing emphasis on natural and technical/accidental threats/hazards to increase citizen interest and commitment

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Idea No. 781