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Radio spots should be broadcast every five minutes in order to hit the maximum audience.
The characteristics that the messages contain differ in amount of material presented, the speed of the presentation, the number of arguments, the repetition, style, clarity, order of events, forcefulness, specificity, accuracy and extremity of the position advocated. Some characteristics can be measured objectively as to effectiveness.
Hazard awareness programs in a community can have different themes. Some programs are designed to attract the attention, others designed to give additional information may have an animal or cartoon mascot or utilize celebrity endorsements.
The content of the messages attract differing audiences. When one wants to address adults, scientific information programs may give technical data about a hazard. This information is processed only by those familiar with the terminology used. Practical instructions on exactly what to do in case of an approaching danger, may focus more on protective responses than on the hazard itself. The simplest instructions are a prompt, a sign that tells the reader or listener a simple action to take in case of danger ("Do not take elevator in case of fire.") These prompts are more likely to be noticed and are easier to remember than technical or detailed instructions. They are also remembered for future situations. Other message styles portray strategies, such as "Remain calm and stay in line for safety." These emphasize the advantages of recommended hazard adjustments and fear appeals. They attract attention and motivate action by describing the potential personal consequences of disaster (Mileti, p. 154).
Those who see hazard messages may miss their importance as they become used to signs in public or repetitious messages that never have to be followed up on. The "cry wolf" syndrome is common. People do not pay attention in airplanes when the stewardesses give detailed demonstrations of what to do in case of emergencies. But is easier and cheaper to simply post signs or use the same old message on the radio.
Researchers have emphasized the important of tailoring messages to the audience. Only a few hazard awareness programs have heeded this advice, and there are few guidelines as to how to do this. The Bay Area Regional Earthquake Preparedness Program, the Southern California Earthquake Preparedness Program of the California Office of Emergency Services and the American Red Cross have each published guides and manuals for special groups. Schools, hospitals, corporations, city managers, emergency personnel and the media are all special groups that would need individually tailored instructions on how to prepare for an emergency. Very few attempts to utilize individual treatments for individual groups have actually been done.
Much of the information available today about hazard awareness and preparedness is not scientifically originated or prepared. The problems facing communities and states on how to approach a major disaster has not been studied and lines of actions have not been standardized. When an actual disaster strikes, existing information is often useless in the face of actual circumstances. Future research is needed on how to look at the categories of disasters, how to react to the various kinds and to set out the characteristics of each type of disaster. Then a set of actions that need to be taken may be set up for each kind of disaster that may strike a community. The first course of action, however, for each community, is to get the information of an impending danger to the members of the community. How this is done and the methods to employ to implement information and instructions to community members is the problem that is addressed in this paper.
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FEMA (2006) "Mapping Information Platform." Federal Emergency Management Agency. Retrieved November 18, 2006 from FEMA website at https://hazards.fema.gov/femaportal/wps/portal/!ut/p/.cmd/cs/.ce/7_0_A/.s/7_0_CM9/_s.7_0_A/7_0_CM9.
Mileti, Dennis S. (2004). Disasters By Design, Washington D.C.: Joseph Henry Press. pp. 152-154.
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