Risk perceptions and preparedness of typhoon disaster on coastal inhabitants in China
Keywords:typhoon, disaster preparedness, risk perception
AbstractChina is highly vulnerable to natural disasters. Southeastern China situated on the Pacific Ocean experiences severe and devastating typhoons and hydrogeological disasters every year. Although respondents are highly aware of the typhoon outbreaks, they do not have necessary precautionary actions.This retrospective study evaluates the inhabitants’ sociodemographic characteristics with risk perceptions and preparedness. Subjects (434 adults) were recruited from two rural areas in coastal south-eastern China, both with high typhoon exposure. One area (landfall area [LA]) was more severely affected than the other (surrounding area [SA]) by the 2006 typhoon “Saomai.” Subjects were interviewed using a structured questionnaire with items addressing sociodemographic characteristics and exposure to public education related to emergency preparedness, risk perception, and coping strategies. Overall, most residents (92 percent) were aware that they lived in a high-risk area. About 54.6 percent respondents chose media as the first approach to obtain preparedness education, and 32.4 percent of respondents thought that personal experience is an important tool to defend themselves from typhoon. In LA, residents perceived themselves to be at higher risk than those who lived in the SA. More than 66.5 percent of respondents were terrified by typhoon, and 62.2 percent of respondents were afraid of its recurrence. Respondents emphasized that their life style (61.4 percent), property losses (54.5 percent), and threat to life (52.4 percent) were influenced by typhoon attack. Coping behavior most likely to be adopted was “anticipatory food, water storage and residents in LA is significantly higher than SA (p < 0.01). Risk perception with Spider Map analysis depicted that the item of disaster information is similar in both familiarity or dread associated with the risk axes (p > 0.05). However, in rescue and recovery of typhoon items, the score of familiarity with risk and dread with the risk axes is below 2.5. Regression analyses indicated that poor coping behavior was positively associated with age, risk perception, residential location, and knowledge of preparedness. The results indicated that risk perceptions and precaution activity were strongly related with inhabitants’ sociodemographic characteristics and vulnerability of disaster-affected zone.
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