The topic of evacuations is simple at the surface: shall we evacuate? Yes, of course! There is a high change of survivability if we evacuate- and a higher chance of injury or greater if we stay. If the answer to this question is so obvious in reality, then why do people not evacuate? Is it due to many reasons: they don’t trust the government, they don’t accept the danger as a viable threat, they have never evacuated and this time will be no different, they simply don’t want to leave their home, or they are unable to do so. What would make someone unable to evacuate? Poverty, illness, or being a vulnerable population such as very young or very old. Ultimately, they lack of transportation in some way.
All of the excuses that were mentioned above are common. They represent the conditions of many populations such as elderly, children, hospitals, schools, prisons, and homeless. One of the common denominators of these groups is that many of these populations are taken care of by a caregiver in some way. One special group that provides a unique challenge is the elderly (that live at home). According to the book The Human Side of Disaster, elderly people are more skeptical than other groups, and are also less likely to receive any warning messages. As listed above, they can easily give every excuse to avoid an evacuation. This is dangerous and difficult to overcome.
One of the most successful ways that they can receive a warning (or any communication) is through citizen contact. Personal direct phone calls are also helpful. When properly warned, elderly people will evacuate. One reason that evacuation warnings fail is due to poor wording, and lack of precision. A vague warning can be interpreted through the lens of any preferred method of excuse (see above). In most disasters, there are sadly a large amount of injured or killed elderly people due to the lack of received or heeded warnings.
Warn elderly people of disaster
Help elderly people with evacuation
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