Addressing the Issues of Public Complacency and Apathy in Emergency Warnings and Mass Notification

Federal Signal white paper explores the reasons why people dismiss or ignore emergency warnings, and proposes possible strategies to improve public awareness and response

This 31-page white paper is intended to assist emergency managers and other public safety officials in understanding why an alarming number of people dismiss or ignore urgent disaster alerts and mass notifications.  In addition to offering an overview of public attitudes with regards to emergency warnings, the study looks at current practices and potential new strategies to improve the public's response to disaster alerts, notifications and instructions.

The paper combines post-disaster surveys with expert review and analysis of citizens' past response to events ranging from Hurricane Katrina and the "Super Tuesday" and Joplin, Missouri tornado outbreaks, to the March 2011 Japanese earthquake-tsunami.  In addition to reviewing polling data from Federal Signal's annual Public Safety Surveys, this white paper draws on comprehensive post-disaster assessments conducted by the National Weather Service (NWS), as well as current emergency preparedness and response studies undertaken by researchers from Florida International University and the University of Buffalo, School of Management.