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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Multi-hazard perspectives on risk perception, disaster preparedness, and emergency management Tanner, Alexa


To adequately address the changing risks of natural hazards, traditional single-hazard frameworks and approaches must be refined to recognize the multi-hazard realities in which individuals and communities manage risks. This involves refining how academics and practitioners operationalize risk perceptions in the face of multi-hazard risks and adapting how community resilience is fostered. Drawing on the natural hazards, risk perceptions, and risk management fields of study, this dissertation investigates and demonstrates the importance of multi-hazard risks in the social science study of disasters. It uses three studies to examine how individuals and communities prepare and respond to multiple natural hazards, and is guided by the research question: How can a multiple natural hazard perspective contribute to understanding community resilience to disasters? Study 1 looks at multi-hazard risk perceptions at the individual level. Through a household survey (n=1,064) conducted in Kyushu, Japan, it finds evidence of cross-over effects whereby personal experience with one hazard influences risk perceptions of other hazards. Study 2 focuses on emergency managers’ experiences with preparedness and response in the face of multiple hazards, including natural hazards and the COVID-19 pandemic. Through interviews with 29 emergency managers serving a diversity of communities across British Columbia, it finds that these professionals’ perceptions and actions are influenced and constrained by funding and other institutional structures that were designed with a focus on single hazards. Study 3 examines how Canadian society prepares for emergencies and how individual preparedness differs between community types. Using a large survey dataset from Statistics Canada’s Survey of Emergency Preparedness and Resilience, it finds notable differences in multi-hazard risk perception, disaster experience, and emergency preparedness between populations in major urban centres and small communities. Together, these three studies conceptualize and provide insight into how communities and individuals perceive, prepare for, and respond to multiple natural hazards and provides recommendations on how adaptation can be supported to address changing multi-hazard risk profiles.

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