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Title: The Generational Gap: Children, Adults, and Protective Actions in Response to Earthquakes
In addition to academic curricula, schools offer regular drills to train young people and adult staff on what to do in an emergency or disaster. Earthquake drills in the United States currently recommend the protective action “drop, cover, and hold on” in the event of shaking. Yet, little is known about whether this guidance is followed in schools and homes by children and adults. To fill this gap, this research examined protective actions taken by children and adults during the 2018 Anchorage, Alaska earthquake and the 2019 Ridgecrest, California earthquake sequence. Our research team conducted indepth interviews with kindergarten to secondary school administrators, teachers, and students, as well with parents, emergency managers, building officials, and engineers (N = 118) in earthquake-affected communities. Our findings indicate that the most common action among children across the study locations was to drop, cover, and hold on. Adults, however, did not always follow current recommended guidance and exhibited more variability in the actions they took in response to shaking, such as trying to protect others, getting in doorways, freezing in place, or rapidly exiting buildings. This research suggests that a generational gap exists that could compromise the safety of young people as well as the adults who care for them. We recommend that earthquake training in schools be strengthened to better prepare both child and adult populations for the threat of earthquakes. Moreover, the emergence of new technologies, like ShakeAlert – the earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States – can create new opportunities for disseminating alert and warning information and preparing populations for impending hazards. Recognising how children and adults may react in an earthquake can improve drills and messaging, refine risk communication strategies, and reduce injury and loss of life.  more » « less
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Australasian journal of disaster and trauma studies
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National Science Foundation
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