Predicting Long-term Adjustment to Volcano Hazard

August 1990 (VOL. 8, NO. 2)

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This study examined the long term patterns of protective response to the threat of volcanic eruption at Mt. St. Helens. Data collected from a sample of 103 affected residents were examined to determine the frequency of adoption and interrelationships among five actions--insurance purchase, evacuation preparation, purchase of specialized equipment, and mitigation actions for ashfall threat or for mudflow / flood threats--that would be taken to protect personal safety and property. Eight variables --hazard salience, threat knowledge, perceived risk from ashfall, perceived risk from mudflows and floods, previous damage, emergency planning, information from relatives and information from friends--were hypothesized to be associated with higher levels of hazard adjustment. All variables except those relating to information sources were found to have significant positive correlations with the level of hazard adjustment, although the regression coefficient for one variable, perceived risk from ashfall, became non-significant when all variables were entered into a regression equation. The results suggest directions for future research, as well as strategies that public safety officials can take to enhance the level of adjustment by the population at risk.