Perceptions of individual preparedness for disaster amongst citizens in Frankfurt


As in all previous Citizen Summits, the quantitative data revealed that most participants of the Germany Summit feel they have a strong lack of knowledge about what to do in case of a disaster. This result reflects the lack of knowledge expressed by most participants in the discussion groups who described themselves as uninformed and unskilled, indicating a vague awareness that information how to prepare themselves appropriately may be available but they did not know where to find it, and they expressed their expectation that citizens' disaster preparedness should be a shared responsibility between citizens and authorities. Their strong desire for access to information sources is consistent with the results from the quantitative study which found that participants indicated a considerable interest in information about disaster preparedness, but only a minority of participants expressed strong intentions to prepare for disasters despite almost half of them perceiving a high or very high risk of a disaster in their area (and similarly elevated levels of worry/concern about potential disasters). These somewhat contradictory data could be interpreted as German citizens' trust in the authorities' perceived effectiveness to deal with disaster situations reducing the perceived need to prepare themselves. However, when explicitly asked for their expectations and participation in preparedness activities within specific time frames, a rather different picture was revealed: Almost two thirds of the participants would like to participate at least every 1-2 years in training activities that would help improve their and their family's or friends' safety in case of a disaster. This result demonstrates that assigning models of “risk cultures” based merely on qualitative data, or quantitative data which do not take into consideration that definitions of “preparing very little” or “preparing a lot” are also culturally defined, may not do justice to citizens' actual willingness to prepare themselves for disasters.

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