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Assessment of Student Awareness, Perception and Reaction to Severe Weather Alerts at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL

Authors: Mia Gerace*,
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Environmental Perception, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Perception, awareness, reaction, severe weather, natural hazards, tornadoes, student, mass communication, alerts, shelter
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


One of the many important roles of the National Weather Service is to warn the public of severe weather that may endanger a community. Heeding such warnings can be a matter of life or death. This study assesses college students’ awareness, perception and reaction to severe weather alerts. It combines geography and mass communication by applying the Protection Motivation Theory and the Technology Acceptance Model to understand whether and why students at Augustana College’s in Rock Island, IL do or do not choose to take shelter from severe storms, such as tornadoes which are common in the Midwest. Through a survey administered to the student body assessing students’ demographics, awareness, perception, and reaction to severe storms, data was collected, analyzed, and compared to the Protection Motivation Theory to understand if past experiences motivate the student to take warnings more seriously since the experience. Additionally, the functionality, usefulness and acceptance of a campus-wide alert system was assessed to understand its role in the mass communication of severe weather alerts. This study finds that the campus-wide alert system is well perceived and that much more can be done to stress the importance of proper shelter-taking etiquette, regardless of past experience.

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