Session 9.3 - Society II

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The Effect of Mechanism Information on Fatalism about Earthquakes

J.L. McClure and R. Sutton

Previous research has shown that attributions for events are influenced by the information about the causal mechanisms that contribute to the outcome. In the present research, the mechanism model was applied to attributions for disasters such as earthquakes, and the issue of whether people think that human actions can make any difference to the outcome. Two studies presented scenarios about earthquakes based on actual reports of earthquakes. Scenarios indicated that negative outcomes in earthquakes affected buildings with a particular design (mechanism information). As predicted, people made less fatalistic inferences, and attributed damage more to lack of preparation, when negative outcomes were linked to poor building design. In contrast, participants saw the outcomes as unpreventable and attributed the outcome to uncontrollable causes when negative outcomes occurred to buildings with good building design. These findings show that mechanism information can lead people to see that even with natural disasters that include gigantic uncontrollable forces, negative outcomes partially reflect particular building designs that are subject to human modification. Disasters often reflect several causes, some of which are controllable. The same principles apply to other risks.

Paper 086: Presentation only.

Keywords: earthquake fatalism, causal mechanism information

Risk of Casualties in New Zealand Earthquakes

D.J. Dowrick and D.A. Rhoades

This paper reports on a study of all earthquakes that have caused (or could have caused) casualties in New Zealand in the period 1840 - 2001 inclusive. The intensity which has been the effective threshold for injuries is Modified Mercalli intensity VII (MM7). In the period of interest at least 71 earthquakes of magnitude Mw  5 have caused MM7 or greater in populated areas, and of these events 16 have caused direct casualties, 297 deaths and 640 injuries requiring hospitalisation. The causes of the casualties are tabulated and discussed, and the potential to reduce casualties in the future is assessed, in particular with the example of a large earthquake occurring on the Wellington fault. Death rates have been determined empirically as functions of four types of structure and MM intensity.

Paper 043: [Read][Print]

Keywords: casualties, causes, buildings, ground damage, masonry, risk reduction

Developments in Emergency Planning

K.D. O'Kane and J.P. Brounts

The limitations within emergency plans are well-known, but the planning process produces a number of benefits. The paper focuses on establishing clarity within emergency plans, by following a defined logical process for hazard analysis that drives their structure and form. Examples from the development of both regional and national emergency plans in New Zealand are summarised. An emphasis on planning on the basis of identified consequences, and on linking functions across the plan as a whole, has been followed. Consideration is also given to how the provisions of a plan may be given greater effect through planned maintenance and review.

Paper 162: [Read][Print]

Assessing and Increasing the Level of Earthquake Preparedness in New Zealand Homes

A.W. Charleson, B. Cook and G. Bowering

This paper presents the methodology and findings of two earthquake preparedness pilot surveys conducted in parallel, and compares their results with those from previous surveys.

The first survey, a door-to-door audit of 100 homes in Wellington City, ascertained the extent to which householders had seismically restrained tall furniture and other chattels. In the second and parallel survey, 50 homes located in the same suburbs as the door-to-door audit were telephoned. An adult occupant was questioned about what mitigation actions had been taken.

Results from the home audits indicate a very low incidence of household items being intentionally restrained to prevent earthquake damage, and that results from self-reported surveys are overly optimistic. Given householders apparent resistance to media prompting to improve preparedness, two alternative strategies to improve levels of household preparedness are suggested.

Paper 137: [Read][Print]

Keywords: earthquake, preparedness, home, household, restraints, mitigation

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