BACKGROUND: Public education is one of the most important elements of earthquake preparedness. The present study identifies methods and appropriate strategies for public awareness and education on preparedness for earthquakes based on people’s opinions in the city of Tehran. METHOD: This was a cross-sectional study and a door-to-door survey of residents from 22 municipal districts in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. It involved a total of 1 211 individuals aged 15 and above. People were asked about different methods of public information and education, as well as the type of information needed for earthquake preparedness. RESULTS: “Enforcing the building contractors’ compliance with the construction codes and regulations” was ranked as the first priority by 33.4% of the respondents. Over 70% of the participants (71.7%) regarded TV as the most appropriate means of media communication to prepare people for an earthquake. This was followed by “radio” which was selected by 51.6% of respondents. Slightly over 95% of the respondents believed that there would soon be an earthquake in the country, and 80% reported that they obtained this information from “the general public”. Seventy percent of the study population felt that news of an earthquake should be communicated through the media. However, over fifty (58%) of the participants believed that governmental officials and agencies are best qualified to disseminate information about the risk of an imminent earthquake. Just over half (50.8%) of the respondents argued that the authorities do not usually provide enough information to people about earthquakes and the probability of their occurrence. Besides seismologists, respondents thought astronauts (32%), fortunetellers (32.3%), religious figures (34%), meteorologists (23%), and paleontologists (2%) can correctly predict the occurrence of an earthquake. Furthermore, 88.6% listed aid centers, mosques, newspapers and TV as the most important sources of information during the aftermath of an earthquake, Discussion: A participatory approach to earthquake-preparedness planning is recommended. This would ensure that program planners use methods, tools, media, and educational materials that are compatible with the culture, needs, and skills of the local communities. CONCLUSION: The findings of this study also reveal methods and tools that the local community considers to be most effective for earthquake-preparedness planning and management. The development of an earthquake-resistance and a safe community requires a high level of collaboration between broadcasting organizations, seismologists, experts in the disaster-preparedness field, as well as the local community. This will allow for timely planning, development, and dissemination of essential information to all stakeholders including the local communities.
J Inj Violence Res. 2010 Jun; 2(2): 85-91. doi:10.5249/jivr.v2i2.25
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