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Study Notes

Characteristic Human Responses to Hazards

Level:
AS, A Level
Board:
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Some of the most common characteristics of human responses to hazards are summarised below.

Fatalism:

This where people accept that there will be a risk but choose to do little about it prior to the event. The response after the event will be reactive but the hazard event will often lead to large loss of life due to there being limited organisational capacity. This type of response is more likely in developing countries.

Prediction:

For some hazards, predicting their occurrence is helpful in preparing places for their impact.

An example of this is a hurricane. Tracking of hurricanes and predicting the likely area of landfall can give city authorities time to organise evacuation plans and get home and business owners to secure windows etc. This isn’t a perfect science, however, with hurricanes changing direction; nevertheless, it’s better to give warnings than none. Some hazards, however, can’t be predicted in the same way – earthquakes for example can be partly predicted should a major quake be preceded by foreshocks; however, this isn’t always the case.

Prediction is more likely in developed counties due to the availability of monitoring technology and qualified experts who can identify patterns, trends and give more reliable forecasts.

Adjustment/adaptation:

For places which experience regular hazards a response is often to adapt or adjust their behaviour to be able to cope with future events better.

Again, it is more likely for developed counties to adapt due to the cost needed to provide the relevant adaptation strategies. For instance, homes in ‘tornado alley’ in central USA often have tornado shelters dug into the ground into which a family can be evacuated.

Mitigation:

Hazard mitigation is any action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from natural hazards. As hazards can occur at the same place over time - for example, earthquakes - mitigation strategies can help an area to be prepared for the impacts and lessen the impacts when the hazards occur.

Retro-engineering older buildings is an example of mitigating the danger from collapsing masonry and reducing the chance of fire breaking out in the event of an earthquake.

Management:

Identifying the possible risks to human life and to properties and allocating appropriate resources to tackle the hazard. Again, this will be better organised in developed countries.

Risk sharing:

The UNs International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) sets out national and international responsibilities in preparing for disasters. Sharing knowledge and human response strategies will enable all countries to prepare for a hazard event in a better way.

Magnitude and intensity of hazards can be reduced depending upon the implementation of mitigation strategies and how countries adopt adaptation strategies.

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