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Children’s understanding of natural hazards in Te Anau, New Zealand, following the 2003 earthquake.
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by D Johnston, Kevin Ronan, K Finnis, G Leonard, J Forsyth
A survey was undertaken at Te Anau Primary School seven months after the Mw 7.2 Fiordland earthquake of August 2003. The questionnaire was designed to assess children’s level of awareness, risk perceptions, factual knowledge and physical preparedness for hazards and mass emergencies (i.e. floods, earthquakes, snow and wind storms, and fires). It also assessed children’s prior exposure to specific hazards and to education programmes about hazards. Their responses were compared with those of children in other regions taking part in similar studies. Children identified earthquakes and building fires as the hazards most likely to affect them, with earthquakes most likely to occur in the future. About a half of the children reported some level of fear when talking or thinking about earthquakes and around 30% believed it would upset their parents. Parents, teachers and friends were only “somewhat” able to help children feel less upset. Almost all the children had felt the August 2003 earthquake or its aftershocks, with many also reporting seeing a house on fire or a wind-storm. The actions they took during the earthquake show that two thirds know the recommended safety actions for this situation. Most also know the correct actions to take if floods, house fires and wind-storms occur. Most of the children have participated in hazard education at school and have discussed it with parents, and many have practiced for an emergency at home. Recommended preparedness measures were variably reported by children, with most saying their households have items such as torches, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and first aid kits but fewer reporting strapping of water cylinders, correct storage of breakable items and stored food/water for three days. Te Anau children have reported similar to higher numbers of earthquake preparedness plans and practices compared with children from other regions.