A Preliminary Assessment of Severe Weather Risk Perception, Behaviors, and Preparedness among Undergraduate College Students

Authors: Christopher Labosier*, Longwood University
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Climatology and Meteorology, Applied Geography
Keywords: hazards, vulnerability, university
Session Type: Interactive Short Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Bayside B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Several high profile meteorological hazards have impacted university communities over the past several years, including the southeast United States tornado outbreak in 2011 and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017. Undergraduate college students at institutions impacted by these and other events represent both a potentially vulnerable and resilient population in the face of meteorological hazards. The purpose of this research is to examine how undergraduate students perceive severe weather risk, behave during severe weather, and prepare for severe weather. An online survey was conducted at a small university in the southeastern United States to address these issues. Results suggest that undergraduate student respondents are aware of severe weather alerts and consume weather-related information from a variety of media sources. Many students, however, do not view severe weather as a threat, have low levels of personal responsibility for their safety while on campus, and are generally unprepared in the event of severe weather. Knowledge, time, and financial constraints were reported as barriers to better preparation. Future work should include focus groups and personal interviews to provide more detailed information. Such information may also uncover misconceptions regarding severe weather safety procedures and preparedness. More broadly speaking, the findings from this study may also be applicable to universities as they develop and refine policies and procedures for other human and natural hazards.

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