Cyclone preparations hinge on cost and effectiveness

Researchers have found north Queenslanders are more likely to prepare for a cyclone if they think their planning will make a difference, and it doesn’t cost too much money.

And older people who’ve previously experienced cyclones are better at making preparations.

James Cook University PhD candidate Mitchell Scovell led a study that quizzed more than 350 people in north Queensland on their attitudes towards preparing for a cyclone.

“Making preparations for a cyclone to hit can significantly reduce property damage and the impact of the after-effects such as power outages, but research has found that some people simply do not make the effort,” said Mr Scovell.

The results of the survey show people are more likely to prepare for cyclones if they think preparedness activities are effective in reducing damage and are relatively inexpensive.

“It was interesting that the perceived ability to perform preparedness activities, such as boarding up a window, had little bearing on whether they were done or not,” said Mr Scovell.

He said people who have experienced cyclone damage regard preparedness measures as more effective for reducing damage, which, in turn, increases preparedness behaviour.

“Homeowners and people with dependent children also tend to perform more general and damage mitigation behaviours. There was no significant difference in preparedness behaviours between males and females,” he said.

Mr Scovell said age and years spent in cyclone-risk areas also increase preparedness.

“Providing information about the benefits of performing preparedness activities while explaining that these behaviours are not costly should improve cyclone preparedness. This approach may be particularly important for people without cyclone experience,” said Mr Scovell.

He said communications should also be tailored differently for the landlords, homeowners and renters.

“Renters may feel little responsibility for property damage and face barriers to taking some protective measures. Messaging should encourage renters to focus on safety and security whereas landlords should focus on preparedness for mitigating property damage,” said Mr Scovell.

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