Household disaster preparedness and information sources: rapid cluster survey after a storm in New South Wales, Australia

Cretikos, Michelle, Eastwood, Keith, Dalton, Craig, Merritt, Tony, Tuyl, Frank, Winn, Linda, and Durrheim, David (2008) Household disaster preparedness and information sources: rapid cluster survey after a storm in New South Wales, Australia. BMC Public Health, 8. pp. 1-9.

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Background: A storm-related disaster in New South Wales, Australia in June 2007 caused infrastructure damage, interrupted essential services, and presented major public health risks. We investigated household disaster preparedness and information sources used before and during the disaster.

Methods: Rapid cluster survey of 320 randomly selected households in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia.

Results: 227 households (71%) responded to the survey. By the day before the storm, 48% (95%CI 40–57%) of households were aware of a storm warning, principally through television (67%; 58–75%) and radio (57%; 49–66%) announcements. Storm preparations were made by 42% (28–56%) of these households.

Storm information sources included: radio (78%; 68–88%); family, friends, colleagues and neighbours (50%; 40–60%); and television (41%; 30–52%). Radio was considered more useful than television (62%; 51–73% vs. 29%; 18–40%), even in households where electricity supply was uninterrupted (52%; 31–73% vs. 41%; 20–63%).

Only 23% (16–30%) of households were aware that the local government-operated radio network has a designated communication role during disasters. A battery-operated household radio and appropriate batteries were available in 42% (34–50%) of households, while only 23% (16–29%) had all of: a torch, battery-operated radio, appropriate batteries, mobile phone, emergency contact list and first aid equipment.

Conclusion: Broadcast media are important information sources immediately before and during disasters. Health services should promote awareness of broadcast networks' disaster role, especially the role of radio, and encourage general household disaster preparedness. A rapid cluster survey conducted shortly after a natural disaster provided practical, robust information for disaster planning.

Item ID: 30112
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2458
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© 2008 Cretikos et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2014 13:54
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920407 Health Protection and/or Disaster Response @ 100%
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