Topic 1-Public Education

Wireless Emergency Alerts

The article I chose speaks about the Wireless Emergency Alerts that are used across the country. Most notably in Hawaii when a false alert was sent out to cellphones across the state warning of incoming ballistic missiles. While this situation doesn’t deal with a geologic hazards, the WEA system has been used in natural disaster situations and has come under some scrutiny. With more technology and monitoring, knowledge of incoming hazards has increased, but how that knowledge is spread to the public is still lagging behind.

The WEA system was launched in 2012 to modernize the countries approach of notifying the public. Nearly every person has a cellphone and is generally in reach of it for the majority of the day, so it makes sense to include cellphones with the TV, radio and air sirens already used to alter citizens of an incoming hazard.

However, human error can occur, just like Hawaii when the alert was sent out that ballistic missiles where in coming. Turns out that the state of Hawaii had no safe guards in place for the WEA system. The articles points out that if this system is to be used in the future, safe guards and updated rules need to be put in place.

Another key point of updating the WEA, is so that mass panic is not caused when alerts go out. Officials from Harris County, Texas expressed their frustration over how they could not pinpoint alerts to residents during Hurricane Harvey without altering a broader area then what was needed.

To me this article stresses the importance of preparedness on the small and large scale. Local and national governments and agencies should know how to use WEA system, but also the limitation  of the system before a real hazards occurs.


Article here:


The Great Shakeout

This article from NBC I found to relevant and important because it comes from a mainstream news company, so this article was surely read by a lot of people, highlighting public education on earthquake hazards. The article focuses on the “Great Shakeout” that occurs every year in October in which 21 million people around the world participate. The shakeout started annually in California and the idea has spread since. Schools around the United States and the world take a pause for a minute to simulate how to respond to a seismic disaster.

This article is relevant for numerous reasons. First of all, it is the largest public education event on earthquake hazards in the United States. In addition, it teaches students and other participants how to react in the case that an earthquake was going to hit their region. Because of the unexpectedness of earthquakes occurring, and many people never having experienced one themselves, how to react to one is the most important part of survival. With an wildfire or a hurricane, you have some sort of notice that it will occur whether it is fire fighters telling you flames could reach you in an hour, or forecasters telling you of a hurricane threat the following week, giving you time to vacate the area and take shelter somewhere safer. With earthquakes there is no warning, besides some areas like Mexico City which have 30 seconds warning from a complex system. By hosting earthquake drills, people will remember how to react in the case of being caught off-guard by an earthquake.

I selected this article because it is important to understand that a drill can make a large difference when the disaster actually strikes. In my second case study, I talked about how the Mexico City earthquake hit just hours after a city wide drill in 2017. With earthquakes often times felt stronger on dry lake beds, Mexico City is at risk to major damage and high human casualties. Due to the luck of having a drill earlier that day, educating the public on how to react in an earthquake saved lives. I think this article is important to the group because this is a major drill held annually, and NBC News did a good job showing how this drill is important in educating earthquake prone areas about how to react in case a big one strikes.

Unit 7: Public Education

In this modern digital age, technology and personal electronic devices are ever-present in our lives. Because of this, education of the public has shifted to mobile-based information services. Several organizations have realized this and are utilizing “apps” to raise public awareness and to educate the public.

The article I found, App raises public awareness as wildfires rage, is a review of the CAL FIRE: Ready for wildfire app developed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention. The app, which is available free of charge for both IOS and Android phones, “provides tools and steps to help prepare your family, home, and property from a wildfire.” Additionally, the app gives users the ability to access information about active California wildfires and offers tips on wildfire prevention, safety, and evacuation. While the app’s location based alerts focus’s only on California, the premise and information available is useful for any location prone to wildfires. The app works on the “Ready, Set, Go” three step model which teaches the user how to maintain and harden your home against wildfire, create and prepare a wildfire action plan, and recognize what to do when wildfire strikes. A “preparedness meter” tracks progress and gives your progress visual representation.

The key take-away points from this resource are: prevention, preparation, and action. The app, which I downloaded and explored for a while, highlights the importance of active wildfire prevention through creating defensible spaces and “hardening” homes and/or property. Additionally it calls for individuals and families to prepare wildfire action plans, emergency supply kits, and communication plans. Lastly it stresses the importance of evacuation before conditions become dangerous.

I selected this resource because I think it represents the shift away from traditional education resources. I think the use of an app makes information easier to distribute to a larger population as well as more accessible to a wider range of people. This resource is an example of developing an effective method for public education about a hazard because it raises public awareness and promotes the public to develop strategies to better prepare for future hazards.

Unit 7, Public Education

Earthquakes are a natural disaster that can affect many parts of our country as well as around the world.  Knowing the correct course of action when one occurs is vital to protect your own life.  The ShakeOut Campaign was implemented to educate the public on what to do when an earthquake occurs.  They partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the US Geological Survey, the National Science Foundation, and the American Red Cross as well as many other local and national partners.  The ShakeOut began in 2008 in Southern California to educate the public on how to protect themselves and how to be prepared during a big earthquake to survive.   On November 12, 2008, the largest earthquake drill in history at that time occurred with 5.3 million people participating.  Today there are now more than 20 Official ShakeOut Regions in the United States and around the world.

ShakeOut Day occurs in October annually, but can be practiced anytime.  The Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill occurs at 10:18 a.m. on October 18, 2018.  “Stop, Cover, and Hold On”, according to emergency managers, researchers, and school safety advocates, is what you need to do to reduce injuries and deaths during an earthquake.  Knowing what to do when shaking begins and practicing these in drills can help to cement this in your mind when the shaking does occur. 

Anyone can participate in this earthquake drill with many school districts, colleges, businesses, and various organizations participating each year.  To prepare and promote the drills, many resources are available such as posters, flyers, messaging, still graphics, Earthquake Safety Guides, and videos.  The slogan “Stop, Cover and Hold On” is a catchy phrase that tends to stick in your mind and can help you remember what you need to do when the earth starts shaking.   Having schools involved and teaching the children at a young age the immediate action to take when shaking occurs can make a tremendous difference in injuries and deaths.  The number of people participating continues to expand each year with more people participating and learning the do’s and don’ts of an earthquake disaster.  In 2017, there were over 58 million participants worldwide, almost ten times at many as in 2008 when ShakeOut Earthquake Drill first began. 

While looking at the registration for 2018 Great Earthquake Drill, I noticed that in Alaska there are only 102 participants that are currently registered.  That seems like a really small number compared to over 50,000 in Oregon or 116,000 in California.  Alaska has not had a really damaging earthquake since 1964 and people tend to forget what destruction happened during the Great Alaska Earthquake and that it can and will happen again.  Being prepared to take immediate action is vital to surviving. 

It is imperative that everyone participates in this drill and that they approach it as if it is real.  Knowledge is the best defense in surviving an earthquake.  People tend to get complacent in dealing with earthquakes when they live in an area that has small earthquakes often.  They start feeling a false sense of safety.  Some people have been in earthquakes and nothing really happened while some took cover and maybe felt they overreacted or others made them feel they overreacted.  It would never be overreacting if it was the “big” one.  Each earthquake must be respected as if it is the big one because it just might be.  Seconds can make a huge difference in surviving an earthquake.  Waiting until you know that it is the big one could very likely be too late.  Having an earthquake drill annually helps everyone to remember that it can happen at any time.  “Stop, Drop, and Hold On” when it does!