Warning signs at beaches: Do they work?

Matthews, Bernadette, Andronaco, Robert, and Adams, Austin (2014) Warning signs at beaches: Do they work? Safety Science, 62. pp. 312-318.

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Abstract

Aquatic safety signs are widely used to alert potential users to hazards such as strong currents (rips), submerged rocks or dangerous marine life. To assist in providing guidance on the way such signage should be deployed the present study asks to what extent warning signs on the approach to some popular beaches add to the existing knowledge of beachgoers exposed to such signage. Interviews were conducted with 472 users at four beaches in the Australian state of Victoria. Three different signage conditions were used; no signage, a single standard composite signboard, and signage spatially separated into four types of signs; location name and emergency information, safety hazard symbols, lifeguard service information, and prohibitions. The interview investigated hazard identification, signage recalled, comprehension of that signage and, to elucidate a question about the shape of warning signs, whether users noticed whether warnings were in a triangle or diamond shape. Currents/rips was the hazard foremost in respondents minds regardless of whether signage was present warning of this danger. Less than half of the respondents (45.0%) reported observing any signage. Of those that did report observing signage the majority noticed the hazard related symbol signs above any other information provided. Neither composition of the sign (i.e. separated or composite/standard sign) nor symbol shape affected recognition. Strategies to direct beachgoers to read and heed the information on aquatic safety signage are discussed.

Item ID: 32932
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0925-7535
Keywords: drowning prevention, beach safety, warnings, risk communication
Funders: Surf Life Saving Australia
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2014 09:21
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200101 Communication Studies @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160503 Communications and Media Policy @ 50%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900302 Socio-Cultural Issues in Tourism @ 100%
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