Developing a “culture of disaster preparedness”: The citizens’ view
Sandra Appleby-Arnold, Noellie Brockdorff, Celia Callus
Reference: IJDRR 102133
To appear in: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Received Date: 24 January 2020
Revised Date: 3 September 2020
Accepted Date: 11 February 2021
Please cite this article as: S. Appleby-Arnold, N. Brockdorff, C. Callus, Developing a “culture of
disaster preparedness”: The citizens’ view, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, https://
This is a PDF file of an article that has undergone enhancements after acceptance, such as the addition
of a cover page and metadata, and formatting for readability, but it is not yet the definitive version of
record. This version will undergo additional copyediting, typesetting and review before it is published
in its final form, but we are providing this version to give early visibility of the article. Please note that,
during the production process, errors may be discovered which could affect the content, and all legal
disclaimers that apply to the journal pertain.
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Developing a “culture of disaster preparedness”: The citizens’ view
, Noellie Brockdorff
, Celia Callus
a Department of Cognitive Science, Faculty of Media & Knowledge Science, University of Malta, Msida MSD2080, Malta
b Department of Cognitive Science, Faculty of Media & Knowledge Science, University of Malta, Msida MSD2080, Malta,
c Nutcracker Research, 67 Kensington Road, Northolt UB5 6AW, United Kingdom, firstname.lastname@example.org
Present address: School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, 15a George Square, Edinburgh EH8
9LD, UK, email@example.com
Sandra Appleby-Arnold; School of Social and Political Science; 15a George Square; Edinburgh EH8
9LD; United Kingdom; firstname.lastname@example.org
Developing a “culture of disaster preparedness”: The citizens’ view
This study investigated the potential for citizens developing “cultures of disaster preparedness”,
which are informed by citizens’ values and experiences rather than imposed from “above”. Based on
previous research we conducted during Citizen Summits in Romania, Malta, Italy and Germany, we
developed a set of recommendations, which were evaluated during two final Citizen Summits held in
Portugal and the Netherlands, using an electronic audience response system and focus group
discussions. The results point at three main strategies, which can be expected to foster a “soft”
cultural change towards disaster preparedness over time: (1) encouraging measures that build upon
already existing cultural values and daily routines; (2) organising preparedness-related activities that
are designed as part of citizens’ everyday-life events; and (3) improving perceived self-efficacy by
demonstrating how citizens’ already existing, personal everyday skills can be harnessed in disaster
Despite decades of disaster and emergency management authorities aiming to improve citizens’
awareness of hazards, preparedness levels have been found to be generally low amongst
populations around the globe. In response, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (2016) called
for researchers to shift their emphasis towards a stronger focus on a “culture of prevention”, in
addition to the more established, and equally important, focus on the role of culture in disaster
response and recovery (e.g., Huang et al., 2015; Field, 2017). The large body of research targeting
factors such as local knowledge, rituals, values and norms, gender roles, collective memory,
livelihoods, social cohesion, social exclusion, or trust in authorities, has revealed the power of these
factors in disaster mitigation (Krüger et al., 2015). Many of these studies take place outside Europe’s
largest cities, and it seems to be an unspoken assumption that, in small-scale settlements or rural
areas, shared values can be activated for an enhanced disaster resilience. However, with few
exceptions (e.g., EDUCEN, 2017), in large urban centres the effects on the population’s resilience of
social rather than cultural factors
are explored (e.g., Martin 2015; Armaş & Gavriş 2016). But
cultural change is encased within many aspects of life, such as attitudes towards technology (e.g.,
Tan et al., 2017), or the roles of children or senior citizens in disasters, shifting from passive victims
to active responders (e.g., Mort et al., 2017, 2018). At the same time, large urban areas are,
typically, densely populated environments where different groups do not necessarily collide, but
may co-exist alongside visible or invisible boundaries, due to perceived cultural differences, which
set them apart. To develop a standardised “culture of disaster preparedness” in such multicultural
settings may well be seen as a daunting task. Even more so as history has shown that imposing new
norms or values upon groups or societies rarely fares well. However, does that mean that a cultural
perspective in disaster research has to be mostly observational, or are there opportunities to
“operationalise” culture and cultural factors for an improved disaster preparedness?
2. Overview: Cultural factors in disaster preparedness
For the purpose of this study, the definition of “culture” by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies (IFRC) is used, which outlines culture as a set of “beliefs, attitudes, values and their
associated behaviours that are shared by a significant number of people in hazard-affected places” (IFRC
2014). In contrast, social factors describe societies and their segments, e.g., education or income levels.
There is a blurred boundary between “the social” and “the cultural”. Some factors, e.g., values and
traditions, are easily identifiable as cultural. In other cases, though, the differentiation is not as clear.
For example, factors like socio-economic status are densely entwined with people’s attitudes and
perceptions, and can often provide the “structural” conditions for shaping cultural factors that are of
concern in disaster preparedness. When exploring behavioural strategies among residents in high-
risk areas in Israel and the factors that may influence these behaviours, Shapira and colleagues
(2018) identified a relationship between these residents’ disaster preparedness and their financial
resources. But the availability of financial resources has also a direct effect on livelihoods, and
previous research (e.g., IFRC, 2014) has demonstrated how people develop unique narratives to
bridge the gap between hazard risk, the need for appropriate disaster preparedness, and the lack of
resources to do so. Such strategies to overcome cognitive dissonance are inherently cultural, being
part of the human desire to “make sense” of people’s lives and the world around them.
Behaviour related to such strategies may provide the foundation for hypotheses that people who
expect a negative disaster outcome will not engage in hazards preparedness, whereas people who
expect a positive outcome will engage (Jang et al., 2016). It also confirms the link identified between
preparedness and perceived self-efficacy related to both natural (Poussin et al., 2014; Tang & Feng,
2018) and man-made hazards (Wirtz & Rohrbeck, 2017). However, such models do not sit well with
findings in other locations with a ‘state-oriented risk culture’ (Cornia et al., 2016), where citizens do
not see a need to engage in hazard preparedness themselves because they perceive taking
preparedness measures as the responsibility of public authorities
. Such projection of preparedness
responsibilities to others on the one hand, or the aforementioned lack of resources on the other
hand, are examples for the so-called ‘risk perception paradox’ (Wachinger et al., 2013), where
individuals, despite their high levels of risk perception, rarely take increased preparedness actions.
To address the issue of financial resources, researchers have pointed at encouraging measures that
require less financial involvement, e.g., fixing heavy objects to a wall for earthquake preparedness,
and begin with easy-to-adapt items, e.g. emergency kits, before progressing to more complex, or
expensive, items (see, e.g., Shapira et al., 2018). Russo and Rindone (2014) suggest a similar strategy
for education and training activities, where the content of education and training activities should
gradually transition from discussion-based to operation-based exercises.
Although Russo and Rindone predominantly target disaster preparedness training for practitioners,
such a progressive strategy also points at the important role of communication-focused activities for
citizens, which may precede and encourage participation in, e.g., physical skills training. In this
context, Jang and colleagues (2016) argue that the higher the frequency of ‘thinking of and talking
about’ a disaster amongst community members, the higher their hazard preparedness intention and
feelings of empowerment. The research of Wirtz and Rohrbeck (2017) revealed that perceived self-
efficacy has a medium influence on taking up preparedness activities, but they found a strong
influence of knowing others who have taken action to prepare themselves.
Such concepts often draw on concepts of community that relate to groups of individuals who share
not only a physical location, but are also assumed to have common interests, needs and aspirations
due to their sharing of a specific physical space. More often, though, communities are “collections of
competing interests” (Peacock et al., 2000) and, despite being exposed to a specific local hazard,
they may not share the same sense of risk (Wachtendorf et al., 2018). Accordingly, community
Cornia and colleagues (2016) identified such state-oriented risk cultures for Sweden, Austria and Germany.
For the Netherlands, they identified signs of both a state-oriented and an individual-oriented risk culture, with
Dutch citizens’ strong trust in public authorities and their coping capabilities, but also concepts of self-reliance
and self-confidence in their personal ability to respond to disaster risks and disaster situations.
cohesion may have a positive effect due to perceived responsibility for others, which “spills over”
into preparedness activities (DeYoung & Peters, 2016), and, particularly in combination with local
knowledge, it can play a life-saving role (Moreno et al., 2019). But it cannot be taken for granted.
To build or strengthen community cohesion, researchers have also pointed at the usefulness of
drawings and storytelling to access memories which were otherwise suppressed, allowing not only
the narration to reveal intangible strengths, e.g., neighbourhood help, but also the narrator’s
willingness to collaborate (Galarza-Villamar et al., 2018). The shaping of collective memory and,
thus, shared identity amongst a local community, is likely to contribute to its disaster resilience
(Kronmüller et al., 2017) and may be encouraged by organising, e.g., community workshops which
specifically promote such activities.
However, generating shared identity may not only serve to strengthen community cohesion to
encourage disaster preparedness. Understanding disasters also as inter-group encounters,
identification processes play a similarly important role in the relationships between emergency
responders and citizens, resulting in increased public cooperation and compliance. Studies have
shown that such identification was achieved through open and timely communication including
explanations about the actions responders were taking (Carter et al., 2018), and with a specific
emphasis on bi-directional information exchange between citizens and authorities (Cohen et al.,
2017). Here, emergency drills and disaster scenario exercises that involve both practitioners and
citizens may thus improve not only perceived self-efficacy through skills training, but also improve
knowledge of, and compliance with, preparedness response procedures through shared identity and
It has been argued that one of the strongest motivators for citizens’ disaster preparedness is direct
and recent disaster experience (see, e.g., Onuma et al., 2017). But, as Becker and colleagues (2017)
have outlined, it is a particular challenge to encourage disaster preparedness behaviour in people
who have only vicarious disaster experience or life experience (e.g., personal or family-related health
emergencies, car accidents). Accordingly, they studied the effects on disaster preparedness of
different forms of prior experience, i.e., direct, indirect, vicarious disaster experience and life
experience. Whereas their results confirmed previous findings that direct experience is the strongest
motivator, they also found that vicarious experience can trigger an increased willingness to pay
attention to hazard-related issues, including thinking and talking about hazard issues, assisting with
understanding the consequences of future events, and helping with the formation of beliefs about
hazards and preparedness. Further, their research revealed that life experiences help inform
people's interpretations and decisions about hazards and preparedness. To make hazards relevant to
the general public, they suggested practitioners may consider reinforcing the general idea that
“preparedness is a way of life” (Becker et al., 2017).
A recent comparative study in Japan focusing on three structurally different urban locations
explored how such idea may be, or already has been, put into practice (Kitagawa, 2019). Calling it
“everyday-life preparedness”, preparedness activities in Kitagawa’s concept need to be embedded
into what communities already do in building a sense of belonging. “Everyday”, here, does not refer
to thinking about and engaging in disaster preparedness every single day, but it aims to embed
preparedness-related thinking and activities in daily life without even calling them disaster
preparedness. Kitagawa identified such activities in all three of the chosen settings. For example,
residents of a very large block of apartments introduced a “greeting campaign” to get to know each
other as a foundation for trust-building, and they developed a system where they could register
their skills and capabilities to help each other in everyday-life situations, but also in case of
emergencies. In another location, residents organised summer BBQ’s where they practised cooking
for a very large group of people, which was also seen to be useful for emergency situations. Another
example demonstrated how “urban farming” can be useful as a community practice for disaster
preparedness by integrating elderly and children via crop-growing in urban allotments. Kitagawa
concluded that direct disaster experience is not necessarily relevant in these everyday-life
preparedness activities, which combine community development with disaster preparedness
However, it remains somewhat unclear to what extent citizens are aware of this potential to develop
such disaster preparedness, which requires little extra time or costs. Although it may be questioned
whether awareness is necessary as long as these bottom-up activities just “happen”, there are other
skills and knowledge that do require a conscious effort, even if it is a small one such as having an
emergency kit or a personal emergency plan. Additionally, perceived self-efficacy is an important
motivational factor for citizens’ disaster preparedness, and it is a process, which is likely to start with
easy-to-adapt behaviours, build up via communication-focused activities where sharing knowledge
and experience enhances taking up responsibility for others. This, in turn, may encourage
participation in skills training and more complex preparedness measures. But whereas both
researchers and practitioners have recognised these different measures as useful, there has yet
been little opportunity for citizens to discuss and, depending on their attitudes, perceptions and life
situations, to prioritise, or to “pick and choose”. Accordingly, this study used the research format of
Citizen Summits to identify in different European locations the potential for “cultures of
preparedness” which are determined from below, rather than from above.
The research reported here is part of a project
, conducted over a period of three years, aimed to,
methodologically, bridge the gap between practitioners and “lay” citizens, understanding their
different perspectives as complementary. Accordingly, between 2016 and 2018 a series of events
was organised, which consisted of three Stakeholder Assemblies and six Citizen Summits. Its cyclical
, with the findings from each event shaping the content of the next, allowed for a
progression of ideas co-created by disaster practitioners and citizens. The synthesised results of this
process were moulded into a set of recommendations for citizens
, which were presented and
evaluated in the last two Citizen Summits, held in 2018 in Portugal and the Netherlands.
CARISMAND (Culture And RISk management in Man-made And Natural Disasters) is a research project co-
funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Programme (2014-2020), Grant Agreement
Number 653748, which aimed to explore the relationships between disaster risk perception, culture and
In 2016, the first Stakeholder Assembly was held in Bucharest, Romania, followed by two Citizen Summits in
Romania and Malta. In 2017, the second Stakeholder Assembly was organised in Rome, Italy and followed
again by two Citizen Summits held in Italy and Germany. The final “round” of events in 2018 was held in
Lisbon, Portugal, with subsequent Citizen Summits in Portugal and the Netherlands.
These recommendations for citizens “mirror” another set of recommendations that was specifically
developed for practitioners (CARISMAND Deliverable 5.13 Synthesised Stakeholder Assemblies Report,
Overall 60 focus group discussions (40 with citizens and 20 with practitioners) shaped the content of the final
set of recommendations that were discussed in Portugal and the Netherlands. In each “round” of Citizen
Summits and Stakeholder Assemblies, part of the discussion topics where chosen based on practices that
citizens and/or practitioners identified as particularly useful in the previous round. This cyclical research design
aimed to foster citizens’ discussion of findings from Stakeholder Assemblies, and practitioners’ discussion of
findings from Citizen Summits. At each round, care was taken to ensure that discussion guides did not bias
The term “Citizen Summit” has its roots in events organised by governmental institutions or NGO’s,
intending to provide an opportunity for “ordinary” citizens, rather than experts or politicians, to
voice their opinions about issues of public interest. Commonly, these summits include plenary
sessions where participants can use electronic keypads to “vote” on questions placed to the general
audience, and small group discussions led by facilitators. The CARISMAND Citizen Summits followed
this format: Quantitative data collection via an immediate audience response system provided the
basis for qualitative focus group discussions aiming to explore cultures and cultural factors, which
may shape citizens’ disaster-related attitudes, perceptions and behaviours.
The results presented in this study are based on the qualitative data collected during the Citizens
Summits in Portugal and the Netherlands. The Netherlands, on the one hand, are concerned with a
rather high level of exposure to natural hazards (mostly flooding), but characterised by low
vulnerability, low susceptibility, a high level of coping capabilities and advanced adaptive capacities
Citizens in Portugal, on the other hand, have had very recent experience of serious wildfires, which
incurred a high number of fatalities, and resulted in a public perception that these disasters were
not handled well by the responsible authorities. Accordingly, these locations were chosen to
contrast and compare citizens’ feedback in two settings with very different types and levels of
disaster experience, as well as different perceptions of disaster management and, potentially,
different trust relationships between citizens and authorities.
Sample composition. Participants for both Citizen Summits were recruited via local research
agencies using a recruitment questionnaire. An industry-standard ‘FreeFind’ approach was used, and
participants were incentivised in line with regular practices for the research location concerned. The
aim of the recruitment questionnaire was to achieve a balanced sample with an even gender and
, except for a comparatively low number of senior citizens aged 65 and above, which
was expected and reflects mobility issues (see Table 1 below).
Table 1: Sample distribution by gender and age
Gender Age group
Total Female Male
18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
Portugal 102 55 43 4 16 21 18 24 17 6 0
Netherlands 89 43 44 2 20 19 15 16 13 5 1
Total 191 98 87 6 36 40 33 40 30 11 1
Furthermore, the recruitment criteria included three key aspects of disaster experience and disaster
risk perception (see Table 2 below), to ensure that all levels of experience with disasters were
present in the sample. Gender- and age-related differences in the responses to these questions were
found to be not statistically significant (p>=.05).
participants, and participants were encouraged to discuss both advantages and disadvantages of proposals put
Source: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/world-risk-report-2017; accessed 08/2018.
Target quota requested from the recruiting research agencies were a gender split of 50% female / 50% male,
a target age split of 20% 18-24 years, 40% 25-44 years, 40% 45+ years, and a total target of approximately 90-
110 participants per Summit.
Table 2: Recruitment criteria
The distribution of experience of disasters and risk perceptions in both research sites confirmed that
the Portugal sample was likely to be affected by the recent local events, whereas the Netherlands
sample reflected attitudes that may be shaped by the high level of Dutch disaster authorities’ coping
Although not part of the screening process at recruitment, results from the first part of the Citizen
Summits established that levels of knowledge about what to do in case of a disaster varied between
the two Summits, with 69% of Portuguese and 49% of Dutch participants feeling not informed or not
informed at all about what to do in a disaster (Table 3). Despite these different levels of feeling
informed, feelings of preparedness were very similar with two third of participants (Portugal: 66%;
Netherlands: 63%) feeling not prepared or not prepared at all (Table 4).
Table 3: Feeling informed about what to do in case of a disaster
Table 4: Feeling prepared about what to do in case of a disaster
However, whereas participants in both Summits indicated a high interest in information about
disaster preparedness (Portugal: 92%; Netherlands: 90%; quite interested or very interested), there
were significant differences between the extent to which participants, in the beginning of the
Summit, declared their intentions to prepare for disasters. A large majority of Portuguese
participants (91%) intended to prepare quite a lot or a lot, but comparatively fewer participants in
the Netherlands (28%) planned to do so (Table 5).
Experience of disasters:
Have you, or a close friend or family member, ever experienced a disaster? 93% 58%
Feel that living in a disaster area:
Do you feel you are living in an area that is specifically prone to disasters? 57% 21%
Know of vulnerable groups particularly exposed to disasters:
Do you know of any other people in your area where you live who, you think,
are particularly vulnerable or exposed to disaster?
How informed do you feel by the authorities (for example Civil Protection, local
police, emergency services) of what you have to do in case of a disaster? Portugal Netherlands
Not informed at all 22.7% 13.5%
Not informed 46.4% 35.8%
Reasonably informed 24.7% 42.0%
Informed 6.2% 7.4%
Very informed 0.0% 1.2%
How prepared do you personally feel for a disaster in your area? Portugal Netherlands
Not prepared at all 26.0% 24.7%
Not prepared 39.6% 38.3%
Neither unprepared nor prepared 28.1% 27.2%
Prepared 6.3% 7.4%
Very prepared 0.0% 2.4%
Table 5: Preparedness intentions
Procedure. Each Citizen Summit consisted of a day-long event, held in a central city location to
facilitate participants’ travel arrangements. The Portugal Citizen Summit was held in Lisbon, the
Dutch Citizen Summit was held in Utrecht; in both locations, participants were recruited from the
larger city area
. After the plenary morning session, in the afternoon participants were allocated to
groups of eight to eleven participants
with an even gender split. All focus group discussions were
moderated by native speakers in Portuguese and Dutch respectively to avoid any language or
education-related access restrictions for participation. All discussions were audio-recorded, fully
transcribed, and the transcripts were translated into English. To ensure the anonymity of
participants, all names and other personal identifiers were removed in this process. Line-by-line
coding of the translated transcripts followed a preliminary coding framework, which had been set up
to allow an initial structuring of the collected data. This initial coding framework was based upon the
structure of the focus group discussion guideline, i.e., general feedback, favourable and
unfavourable reactions to the individual recommendations, barriers, and suggestions for
improvement. The structured results of this first coding permitted the development of a more
refined matrix – an “analytical scaffolding” (Charmaz, 2006). Based on this matrix, the transcripts of
all 20 discussion groups were then recoded and themes were identified, which provided a better
focus on specific attitudes, perceptions and beliefs, revealing participating citizens’ acceptance,
perceived usefulness and relevance of the recommendations presented.
Based on the frequency of these specific findings, a qualitative “rating” (Table 6) was established to
identify those recommendations, which found most support amongst participants.
Table 6: Qualitative “rating” of recommendations
ll or almost all participants in all groups agre
ed and found the respective recommendation
to be very useful and important.
At least 80% of participants in the respective focus group gave a positive evaluation, and none of the
participants rejected, criticised or made any negative comment to the recommendation.
majority of participants in most groups agreed
upon the respective recommendation’s
usefulness, with some participants considering it to be difficult to implement in their daily
At least half +1 of the participants in the respective focus group gave a positive evaluation, and not
more than 30% rejected, criticised or made any negative comment to the recommendation.
had a mixed reception
of the participants perceiv
ed it as
useful, whereas others felt that it would not be applicable to them (e.g., due to age concerns
or personal circumstances).
An equal number of participants in the respective focus group gave positive and negative comments to
In the Netherlands summit including the city areas of Amsterdam and Groningen.
In each summit, two groups consisted of participants aged 18-24, four groups of participants aged 24-44,
and four groups of participants aged 45+. This division into age groups aimed to allow participants to discuss
amongst peers with similar life-experiences.
To what extent do you intend to prepare for disasters? Portugal Netherlands
Prepare not at all 0.0% 6.0%
Prepare very little 1.0% 18.1%
Prepare a bit 8.0% 48.2%
Prepare quite a lot 59.0% 20.5%
Prepare a lot 32.0% 37.2%
A majority of participants in most groups rejected the respective recommendation as not
useful or not applicable to their personal circumstances.
At least half +1 of the participants in the respective focus group gave a negative evaluation, criticised
or made a negative comment to the recommendation.
4. Results & discussion
In Portugal, a great majority of participants across all age groups felt that the development of a
“culture of preparedness” was, generally, desirable. Whilst aware that a change of mindset would
be required for some of the recommendations to be implemented, they also believed that such
cultural change was possible over time. As an example, many explained how attitudes and
behaviours in waste recycling had changed amongst the Portuguese population over the last
decades. In the Netherlands, the data revealed attitudes amongst most participants that oscillated
between inertia and interest. Many felt that it was the Dutch government’s duty to inform citizens
rather than citizens having to gather information themselves. However, some also expressed their
opinion that this responsibility should be shared between citizens and authorities. Additionally, a
majority of Dutch participants expressed their specific interest in information about disaster risks
and preparedness when travelling abroad. In both locations, participants felt that changing the
“little things”, such as reading signs that contain emergency-related information or putting up
emergency numbers with a fridge magnet, and discussing emergency procedures with family
members, promised the highest impact on behavioural change. Further, they expressed their
strongest appreciation, and interest in, community workshops and training events that not only
target learning or refreshing disaster or emergency-related skills, but were also designed to help
improving the participants’ cultural awareness, and develop “cultural skills”.
In the following, we present in detail our findings on the “Top 5” recommendations, which, in both
or at least one of the Citizen Summits, achieved a rating of “++”.
4.1 The power of “simple things”
Recommendation 1: Set up personal emergency plans together with your family and friends by
discussing emergency contacts, meeting points, means of communication etc. Use simple
reminders to have these emergency plans and information readily available, e.g., as a pic on your
mobile phone, in your purse, or to stick on the fridge.
This recommendation was perceived by the majority of participants across all age groups in both
Citizen Summits as the, potentially, most impactful, and the most likely to be taken up by
themselves. Participants in the Netherlands ascribed their motivation, and this recommendation’s
expected success, to its perceived ease of implementation in their daily lives:
“I have put this recommendation as my number one. It is very simple and you do not have to
look up all kind of complicated things […] There is a lot of power in this recommendation.”
“Having meetings with your parents and agreeing on meeting places etc. that is very useful,
(…). It is a very simple agreement that can have big consequences.”
“There is not a lot that prevents you from doing it. There is not a lot that you have to do, and
there are no costs involved.”
A full list of the discussed recommendations, and their evaluation, can be found in Appendix I.
“This is it, this is what I would like the government to help me with: I would like them
[disaster management authorities] to tell me these simple things, things that stick with you.”
These quotes confirm the findings of Shapira and colleagues (2018), i.e. that easy-to-adapt measures
– “simple things” which require no financial resources and little time as they can be integrated into
people’s everyday routines – are likely to have the greatest success when initially encouraging
citizens’ disaster preparedness. However, they also point at two further aspects which were not
discussed by Shapira et al.: Firstly, measures like personal emergency plans and family discussions
may be simple (and information about them widely available, e.g. on Civil Protection websites), but
being simple does not mean that they are obvious. Secondly, their adoption is more likely if they are
perceived as generally useful beyond disaster situations, i.e., in everyday life preparedness.
Additionally, everyday life routines like family gatherings are subject to cultural differences
Portugal, where almost two thirds of young adults aged 18-34 still live with their parents
particularly the younger Citizen Summit participants expressed their intention to take the
recommendation up immediately and share it with their family members: “I’m going to talk to my
parents about it”; I’ll leave from here and go home and tell my mother for us to think about it”.
Accordingly, this recommendation may be specifically successful in societies with close family ties
and where several generations are living under one roof: “If there is just one person who pushes for
it at home, I think if there's already good communication at home, things will flow”.
The following recommendation for developing a culture of preparedness received similarly strong
support in both the Portuguese and the Dutch Citizen Summit as, again, a “simple thing that can
make a big difference”.
Recommendation 2: Be on the lookout for publicly displayed information about how to prepare for
emergencies or disasters, e.g., posters and signs in buses, waiting halls, entrance areas of sports
stadiums, shopping centres, concert halls or hotel lobbies. Make a point of reading and
memorising such information, and encourage people who are accompanying you, especially
children, to do the same.
Here, the assumed ease of implementation merges with filling a perceived “void”, by catching
people’s attention in places “where people do nothing”, e.g., in waiting rooms, the subway, or where
people queue. However, participants also outlined that publicly displayed information in such spaces
increasingly competes with information readily available via tablets or smartphones and, thus, needs
to be compelling enough to attract attention. In this context, one Portuguese participant further
elaborated how a smartly worded sign in their workplace had improved awareness amongst staff:
“In my company there is a poster that says ‘When a disaster happens, don’t read the instruction
manual. Read it now.’ It’s such a simple message, and I think many of us have already been to this
safety link”. Generally, though, participants in both summits expressed their awareness, and
willingness, to adapt their behaviour: “I will be paying more attention from now on […] These things
need to become ingrained. It just needs to become a simple fact,” pointing, again, at the power of
4.2 The power of sharing
In this case, “cultural differences” are not to be understood as differences due to nationality, but due to
different cultural factors, like lifestyle and family ties, that are prevailing in different societies.
63.4%. In contrast, in the Netherlands only 35% of young adults aged between 18-34 lived with their parents
in 2017; the EU average is 48%; source: http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/submitViewTableAction.do
Recommendation 3: Find out whether there are community workshops in your area on how to
prepare for, and respond to, disasters. If none are organised, ask your local council or civil
protection authority to organise such workshops. Take part in these workshops and use this
opportunity to share your experiences of past disasters; discuss values and traditions that played
an important role in these situations. The active participation in such community workshops will
help community members learn from each other about local hazards and disaster risks, and so
strengthen community spirit for improved community responses in the event of a disaster.
This recommendation relates to Wirtz and Rohrbeck’s findings (2017) that getting to know others via
workshops who have taken action to prepare themselves will foster behavioural change. It was
found to be very useful by the majority of Portuguese participants in most discussion groups,
independent from their age:
“Participating in workshops and sharing experiences - I think it's very important […] in our
country we will always have memories of something that happened.”
“I think it would be useful if there were such workshops. It is precisely in this sharing of
experiences and other knowledge that, sometimes, we even put an end to certain myths.”
In the Netherlands, the recommendation was also found to be useful by a majority of participants in
most discussion groups, although a minority feared that such workshops may “end up in some kind
of sensational story telling session”. In both locations, participants suggested that more people may
be attracted to such workshop if it was part of a larger public event, e.g. a summer festival with
several activities, where “the result would be an educational and fun day”. This suggestion resonates
strongly with Kitagawa’s concept of everyday-life preparedness, by embedding disaster
preparedness activities in what people already do in building a sense of belonging. At the same time,
it ties in with the data collected when discussing the next recommendation:
Recommendation 4: Find out about training events in your area, e.g. First Aid and CPR training,
where you can participate; use these events to learn new skills or refresh old skills. Such events are
also an opportunity to train with fellow citizens from other cultural backgrounds; learn to identify
and respect their specific cultural needs.
In both Citizen Summits, the majority of participants strongly appreciated this recommendation as
“useful in many situations, and it helps you to be aware of different cultural aspects and values”,
though some middle-aged participants in Portugal felt that they may have difficulties to make time
in their busy lives between work and family responsibilities. However, across all ages both
Portuguese and Dutch participants perceived themselves as living in urban areas that are inherently
multi-cultural and, thus, represent specific challenges – an aspect which has been discussed neither
by Wirtz and Rohrbeck (2017) nor Kitagawa (2019). These perceptions related to multi-cultural
ranged from language issues to genuine tolerance, and from a somewhat utilitarian attitude
of enlarging the “pool” of potential helpers, to the desire to “break down the barriers” and offering
“We need to find proper ways to communicate with each other. Take for instance
Amsterdam, that’s where I live, a city with so many different languages. That’s why it is
important to communicate well with each other. (…) That’s why we need to coordinate this,
you need to organise it well. If not, people will all go into different directions, except for the
Whereas some participants discussed this topic by using the term “culture” synonymously with nationality
or ethnicity, most of them reflected on cultural differences at the level of different practices, values or norms.
“That’s also my experience. I used to live in a multi-cultural environment and I and my
children are mixed race. You’re all in this together.”
“I think the more you know about each other the more tolerant you’ll become.”
“It would also be interesting because we live in a multicultural society, in my area anyway.
So that I know that when there’s an emergency I can ask this person for help.”
“I think this is important because nowadays, especially in Lisbon, it is a city where many
communities are living together. And sometimes we are not aware of our neighbours, we live
quite apart from them […] And then we realise something, which is that when we need
someone, it doesn't matter what colour or what country they come from.”
“We have Syrian refugees in Portugal, but nobody has ever explained how the Muslim
religion is, what's the type of care [needed]. There was a lot of talk about hosting families,
but there was no training. I received a family and had to learn everything by myself. They
arrived, and I didn't know what I was supposed to do.”
“We have a lot of people from different cultural backgrounds in my neighbourhood […] I’d
like these people to know that we can all count on each other, regardless of where you’re
from. They’re not only dependent on each other but we, their Dutch neighbours, we can also
help them when they’re in need. I would like to break the barriers that exist in my
neighbourhood. I do believe that these barriers could indeed be broken by these kinds of
In particular Dutch participants showed a high level of awareness that
“in such training you look at your own norms and values, that this can be an obstacle in
providing aid. You do not have to know all cultural backgrounds and have ‘manuals’ for
them, that is not realistic. It is more of becoming aware of your own baggage, the tinted
glasses, that you are aware of this and which obstacles it can form”.
This quote demonstrates that, rather than expecting disaster managers to turn into cultural trainers,
such events would require “cultural moderators” who help participants to reflect upon themselves
and put their own values, norms and behaviours into perspective. Accordingly well-designed disaster
preparedness training activities that also focus on cultural awareness are likely to benefit both “lay”
citizens and practitioners and have sustained effects that go beyond the improvement of knowledge
“A sense of community. I live in an area where there are a lot of Moroccan people and
there’s not a lot of contact with them […] But it is interesting to get to know and understand
each other about these matters […] I think this is a really important issue.”
“I think this is a good thing, I would take part […] I would almost be inclined to do it for the
sake of getting to know the people who live in my neighbourhood. Instead of a barbeque we
could have this as a social and cultural event.”
Here, interestingly, the relationship between community cohesion and disaster preparedness goes
somewhat topsy-turvy: Social cohesion is not a factor that fosters disaster preparedness, but
disaster preparedness training activities are seen as “social and cultural events” which hold the
potential to build a sense of community in multi-cultural environments.
4.3 The power of empowerment
Recommendation 5: When you participate in disaster training activities, use these opportunities to
think about and discuss with other participants and your trainers the personal skills you already
have that could be helpful in a disaster, e.g. technical skills, communication skills, organising
talent or detailed local knowledge.
This recommendation met very strong acceptance in Portugal, particularly when participants
imagined it not only in the context of preparedness training activities, but also in combination with
community workshops, where they saw the opportunity of mutual encouragement through
narratives and shared experience. This result confirms previous findings regarding the relationship
between perceived self-efficacy and disaster preparedness (Poussin et al., 2014; Tang & Feng, 2018;
Wirtz & Rohrbeck, 2017), and, additionally, affirms its connection to ‘thinking and talking about’
disasters (Jang et al., 2016). Accordingly, empowerment for improving citizens’ disaster
preparedness can be seen as a process that is embedded in group dynamics rather than individual
learning and reflection.
Dutch participants particularly appreciated the mutual effect of self-awareness and practical
“I think it would be good if people would be aware of the different roles they could fulfil, but
don’t just think or talk about it, you also need to act upon it. These roles don’t always need to
be practical, you could also think along the lines of ‘oh, this person is good at calming people
down, and this other person knows how to remember where we can find the emergency exit’
[…] Basically, believe in your own strength, think about how you can contribute […]”
Additionally, participants in both summits suggested providing specific examples and asked for
guidance to facilitate the process of self-identification:
“Because only when those examples came up [in the morning presentation during the Citizen
Summit], you started to think about yourself. If there were more examples, more people
would probably feel involved […] Standard roles that you can identify yourself with. What
people could do, how they can use it. You can list clear roles that are necessary in a disaster
The previously identified relationship between perceived self-efficacy and disaster preparedness
(Poussin et al., 2014; Tang & Feng, 2018; Wirtz & Rohrbeck, 2017) may, thus, be fostered by such
roles, as their recognition can represent an important first step in the development of self-efficacy –
particularly in individual-oriented risk cultures such as the Netherlands (Cornia et al., 2016), because
they represent already existing core elements of people’s everyday lives, which are easy to identify
As Domingues and colleagues (2018) have demonstrated in their research on perception of coastal
hazards in Portugal, generating worry or fear through information or education in an attempt to
improve preparedness via increased risk perception may have the opposite effect. In particular,
citizens whose main source of knowledge is life experience may not respond well to such strategies.
Instead, they may lead to cognitive dissonance and people engaging in strategies to psychologically,
rather than practically, cope with perceived risks. Encouraging sustained behavioural change
towards disaster preparedness may therefore be more successful if making use of factors that are
already aligned with people’s worldviews, values and norms, i.e. cultural factors, which are more
likely to achieve a “soft” cultural change over time. However, the development of such “culture of
preparedness” is not a monolithic exercise, but more likely to build upon on a combination of
various dynamics. The results of our research with citizens in Portugal and the Netherlands point at
three main strategies, which can be linked to such cultural change.
Firstly, incorporating “simple things” in already existing daily routines is likely to be more successful
than other measures, because it only requires little cost or effort. However, its particular strength
lies in that it builds and extends upon already existing cultural values and daily routines.
Secondly, community cohesion as a cultural value to foster disaster preparedness, particularly in
large urban environments, cannot be taken for granted. However, this does not mean that there is
no desire for community cohesion amongst city dwellers, and this desire may be conductive to
participating in disaster preparedness activities, fostered by general cultural empathy and, not least,
natural curiosity or intellectual interest in “the other”. Events that facilitate these encounters –
which may be workshops that aim to create shared identities via collective memory, training
activities that incorporate self-awareness, or a combination of both – are more likely to be accepted
if they are, again, organised as part of everyday-life events.
Thirdly, targeting self-efficacy, if focused solely on the acquisition of disaster or emergency-specific
skills, may face citizens’ general inertia or feelings that it is the authorities’ responsibility to take
preparedness measures. However, targeting already existing, personal everyday skills and improving
citizens’ awareness of their additional usefulness for disaster situations, may serve as another factor
in fostering disaster preparedness through everyday-life preparedness.
Understanding preparedness as “a way of life” (Becker et al., 2017) may also hold further benefits:
Fostering preparedness is not only a form of disaster management, but also a dynamic form of
health promotion (Tang & Feng, 2018), which points at the potential of fruitful cooperation between
healthcare providers, disasters management authorities and researchers in targeting cultural
change. Such cooperation, aiming to promote and further explore the cultural dynamics of disaster
preparedness, is likely to help improve citizens’ general health and well-being in their everyday lives.
The main limitation of this study lies in that the data in both research locations were collected from
non-probability samples, which are not representative of either the Portuguese or the Dutch
population, or the European population at large. Furthermore, although participant selection aimed
to achieve samples with an even spread across all ages, participants aged 65+ were
underrepresented. However, age-related differences in disaster experience and disaster risk
perception were found to be not statistically significant (p>=.05). For the purpose of eliciting the
perceived role of cultural factors in locations with different disaster histories, institutional
environments and types of local hazards, we consider this underrepresentation therefore to be
acceptable. In addition, the qualitative findings from this research do not point at age-related
differences in attitudes or perceptions towards cultural practices that would foster an everyday-life
preparedness. Finally, “culture” is a term which, in everyday language, is often used synonymously
with nationality or ethnicity. Accordingly, focus group participants occasionally defaulted to this
definition in their discussions. However, group moderators were carefully briefed to probe and guide
participants towards possibilities of a wider understanding of culture, including everyday practices,
but without restricting them to pre-defined uses.
The research reported in this paper was carried out as part of the CARISMAND project. CARISMAND
– Culture And RISk management in Man-made And Natural Disasters – has received funding from the
European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (2014–2020) under Grant
Agreement Number 653748. Opinions expressed in this paper solely reﬂect the authors' view; the EU
is not responsible for any use that may be made of information it contains.
The authors would like to thank Alexandra Tsvetkova, Libre Foundation (Bulgaria) for her
contribution in the organisation of all Citizen Summits.
Armaş, I. & Gavriş, A. (2016) Census-based Social Vulnerability Assessment for Bucharest. Procedia
Environmental Sciences Vol 22, 138-146.
Becker, J.S., Paton, D., Johnston, D.M., Ronan, K.R. & McClure, J. (2017) The role of prior experience
in informing and motivating earthquake preparedness, IJDRR 22, 179-193.
Carter, H., Drury, J. & Amlôt, R. (2018) Social Identity and Intergroup Relations in the Management of
Crowds during Mass Emergencies and Disasters: Recommendations for Emergency Planners and
Responders. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, Volume Advance Article, March 15, 2018.
Cohen, C., Goldberg, A., Lahad, M. & Aharonson-Daniel, L. (2017) Building resilience: The relationship
between information provided by municipal authorities during emergency situations and community
resilience. Technological Forecast and Social Change Vol 212, 119-125.
Comfort, L.K. (1999) Shared risk: Complex systems in seismic response. Pittsburgh: Pergamon.
Cornia, A., Dressel, K. & Pfeil, P. (2016) Risk cultures and dominant approaches towards disasters in
seven European countries. Journal of Risk Research, 19:3, 288-304
DeYoung, S. & Peters, M. (2016) My community, my preparedness: The role of sense of place,
community and confidence in government in disaster readiness. International Journal of Mass
Emergencies & Disasters, 34(2), 250-282.
Domingues, R.B., Santos de Jesus, S.N. & Ferreira, O. (2018) How a coastal community looks at
coastal hazards and risks in a vulnerable barrier island system (Faro Beach, southern Portugal).
Ocean and Coastal Management 157, 248-256.
EDUCEN (2017) Culture and Urban Disaster. A Handbook.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5L3EK3ILtDfOGw4OTg4Mm9XMDQ/view; accessed 05/2019.
Field, J. (2017) What is appropriate and relevant assistance after a disaster? Accounting for culture(s)
in the response to Typhoon Hayan/Yolanda. IJDRR 22, 335-344.
Galarza-Villamar, J.A., Leeuwis, C., Pila-Quinga, G.M., Cecchi, F. and Párraga-Lema, C.M. (2018) Local
understanding of disaster risk and livelihood resilience: The case of rice smallholders and floods in
Ecuador. IJRDD 31, 1107-1120.
Hoffmann, R. & Muttarak, R. (2017) Learn from the past, prepare for the future: Impacts of
education and experience on disaster preparedness in the Philippines and Thailand. World Dev. 96,
Huang, S.K., Lindell, M.K. & Prater, ? (2016) Who leaves and who stays? A review and statistical
meta-analysis of hurricane evacuation studies. Environment and Behaviour, 48(8), 991-1029.
IFRC - International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2014) World Disasters
Report. Focus on Culture and Risk.
https://www.ifrc.org/Global/Documents/Secretariat/201410/WDR%202014.pdf; accessed 05/2019.
Jang, I.J., Wang, J.J., Paton D., & Tsai, N.Y. (2016) Cross-cultural comparisons between the
earthquake preparedness models of Taiwan and New Zealand. Disasters 40 (2), 327-345.
Kitagawa, Ki. (2019) Exploring ‘everyday-life preparedness’: Three case studies from Japan. IJDRR, in
Kronmüller, E., Atallah, D.G., Gutiérrez, I., Guerrero, P. & Gedda, M. (2017) Exploring indigenous
perspectives of an environmental disaster: Culture and place as interrelated resources for
remembrance of the 1960 mega-earthquake in Chile. IJDRR 23, 238-247.
Krüger, F., Bankoff, G., Cannon, T., Orlowski, B. & E.L.F. Schipper, L. (2015) Cultures and Disasters.
Understanding cultural framings in disaster risk reduction. Abingdon/New York: Routledge.
Lindell, M.K., Arlikalti, S. & Prater, C.S. (2009) Why people do what they to do protect against
earthquake risk: perceptions of hazard adjustment attributes. Risk Analysis 29 (8), 1072-1088.
Martin, S.A. (2015) A framework to understand the relationship between social factors that reduce
resilience in cities: Application to the City of Boston. IJDRR 12, 53-80
Moreno, J., Lara, A. & Torres, M. (2019) Community resilience in response to the 2010 tsunami in
Chile: The survival of small-scale fishing community. IJDRR 33, 376-384.
Mort, M., Walker, M., Lloyd Williams, A. & Bingley, A. (2017) From victims to actors: The role of
children and young people in flood recovery and resilience. Environment and Planning C: Politics and
Space, 36:3, 443-442.
Mort, M., Walker, M., Lloyd Williams, A. & Bingley, A. (2018) Displacement: Critical insights from
flood-affected children. Health and Place, Vol 52, p.148-154.
Onuma, H., Shin, K.J. & Managi, S. (2017) Household preparedness for natural disasters: Impact of
disaster experience and impliciations for future disaster risks in Japan. IJDRR 231, 148-158.
Paton, D., Bajek, R., Okada, N. & McIvor, D. (2010) Predicting community earthquake preparedness:
a cross-cultural comparison of Japan and New Zealand. Nat Hazards 54, 765-781.
Peacock, W.G., Morrow, B.H. & Gladwin, H. (eds) (2000) Hurricane Andrew: Ethnicity, gender, and
the sociology of disasters. Miami: Florida International University, International Hurricane Center.
Poussin, J.K., Botzen, W.W. & Aerts, J.C. (2014) Factors of influence on flood damage mitigation
behaviour by households. Environ.Sci.Policy 40, 69-77.
Russo, F. & Rindone, C. (2014) Urban Exposure: Training activities and risk reduction. WIT Trans Ecol
Environ. 191, 991-1001.
Reuter, C. & Kaufhold, M. (2018) Fifteen years of social media in emergencies: A retrospective
review and future directions for crisis Informatics. Contingencies and Crisis Management, Vol 26 (1),
Shapira, S., Aharonson-Daniel, L. & Bar-Dayan, Y (2018) Anticipated behavioral response patterns to
an earthquake: The role of personal and household characteristics, risk perception, previous
experience and preparedness. IJDRR 31, 1-8.
Solinska-Nowak, A., Magnuszweski, P., Curl, M., Frenh, A., Keating, A., Mochizuki, J., Liu, W.,
Mechler, R., Kulanowska, M. & Jarzabek, L. (2018) An overview of serious games for disaster risk
management – Prospects and limitations for informing actions to arrest increasing risk. IJDRR 31,
Tan, M.L., Prasanna, R., Stock, K., Hudson-Doyle, E., Leonard, G. & Johnston, D. (2017). Mobile
applications in crisis informatics literature: A systematic review. International Journal of Disaster Risk
Reduction, Vol 24, 297-311.
Tang, J. & Feng, J. (2018) Residents’ Disaster Preparedness after the Meinong Taiwan Earthquake: A
Test of Protection Motivation Theory. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public
Health, 15(7), 1434-1446.
Taylor, H. & Peace, R. (2015) Children and cultural influences in a natural disaster: Flood response in
Surakarta, Indonesia, IJDRR 13, 76-84.
UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction: International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (2016)
Wachinger, G., Renn, O., Bogg, C. & Kuhlicke, C. (2013) The risk perception paradox – implications for
governance and communication of natural hazards. Risk Analysis 33, 1049-1065.
Wachtendorf, T., Kendra, J.M. & DeYoung, S.E. (2018) Community Innovation and Disasters. In:
Rodriguez, H., Donner, W. & Trainor, J.E. (eds) Handbook of Disaster Research. Second Edition.
Cham: Springer, 387-410.
Wirtz, P.W. & Rohrbeck, C.A. (2017) Social influence and cognitive-motivational effects on terrorism
preparedness: A hurdle model. Health Education Journal 76 (4), 385-397.
of discussed recommendations for citizens developing a
“culture of preparedness”
Set up personal emergency plans together with your family and
friends by discussing emergency contacts, meeting points, means of
• Use simple reminders to have these emergency plans and
information readily available (e.g., as a pic on your mobile phone, in
your purse, or to stick on the fridge).
Be on the look-out for publicly displayed information about how to
prepare for disasters, which is often displayed in public places, e.g.,
posters and signs in buses, waiting halls, entrance areas of sports
stadiums, shopping centres, concert halls or hotel lobbies.
• Make a point of reading and memorising such information, and
encourage people who are accompanying you, especially children, to
do the same.
Find out whether there are community workshops in your area on
how to prepare for, and respond to, disasters.
• If none are organised, ask your local council or civil protection
authority to organise such workshops.
• Take part in these workshops and use this opportunity to share your
experiences of past disasters; discuss values and traditions that
played an important role in these situations.
• The active participation in such community workshops will help
community members learn from each other about local hazards and
disaster risks, and so strengthen community spirit for improve
community responses in the event of a disaster.
Find out about training events in your area, e.g. First Aid and CPR
training, where you can participate; use these events to learn new
skills or refresh old skills.
• Such events are also an opportunity to train with fellow citizens from
other cultural backgrounds, learn to identify and respect their
specific cultural needs.
When you participate in disaster training activities, use these
opportunities to think about and discuss with other participants and
your trainers the personal skills you already have that could be
helpful in a disaster, e.g. technical skills, communication skills,
organising talent or detailed local knowledge.
If there is the opportunity, participate regularly in disaster simulation
exercises, which will help strengthening a sense of community, and
increase the mutual understanding and trust between disaster
practitioners and citizens.
• Encourage friends and family members to do the same.
Identify and memorise “safe spots” or “safe zones” in your homes,
your workplaces, and your local area.
• Keep in mind that such safe places may be different for different
types of disaster.
• Share and discuss these safe places with family members, friends and
If you have a smart phone, find out what mobile phone apps are
available in your country and local area that are specifically designed
for disaster communication, such as providing warnings and alerts,
recommendations for appropriate disaster preparedness and
response, and important points of contact in case of a disaster.
• Become familiar with the features of such apps and test them
• Encourage friends and family members to download and use this app
If you travel abroad, make it a habit to gather in advance information
about local emergency procedures, e.g. via websites of Civil
Protection, Red Cross, your country’s local embassy, or by asking at
the hotel reception of your travel destination.
• If you use mobile phone apps, find our whether there is a “disaster
app” available in the countries where you travel, which provides
emergency-related information and guidance in your language.
Search online for reliable sources of information (e.g., the Civil
Protection website) or ask your local council for information about
how to prepare yourselves and your family and friends for disasters.
• Download this information or ask the authorities to send you any
• Update yourself at least once a year.
Find out which information channels can be used in case of a
disaster, e.g. websites or social media sites of your local police force,
Civil Protection etc.
• Make sure you know how to access them, bookmark the links and
test them regularly.
• Encourage and help other family members and friends to do the
If you enjoy playing online games, find out what serious games for
disaster preparedness and response are available in your country and
language; train yourself by playing them and encourage others to do
• If there are such games that were specifically designed for children,
encourage your children to play them, or play them together; ask
teachers or kindergarten staff to play them with the children
If you are involved in digital gaming design, for example as the
developer of multi-player online games, a lecturer or a student in this
area, help disaster managers to employ virtual reality as a training
• This could be achieved by using serious game design for disaster
preparedness as a study goal, or by including the theme of
appropriate disaster response in the design of multi-player games.
Volunteer to get involved in the planning of emergency and disaster
response activities (e.g., by contacting your local council, or Civil
Protection), and encourage fellow citizens from different cultural
backgrounds to do the same.
• Your participation will help practitioners learn about cultural
differences before a disaster occurs and adapt the respective
guidelines and procedures accordingly.
Declaration of interests
The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships
that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
☐The authors declare the following financial interests/personal relationships which may be considered
as potential competing interests: