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Tornado Shelter Essay

Introduction

Life can change in an instant when severe weather strikes. Populations living in tornado prone areas have likely experienced this phenomenon firsthand. During these extreme weather events, storm shelters are life savers (Smith, 2013). Failing to take the proper protective actions, however, can contribute to tornado-related injuries (Hammer & Schmidlin, 2002).

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Taking the proper actions during a severe weather event varies depending on location. When traveling, it is recommended to get to a solid structure and away from the vehicle. In a permanent structure, people are urged to get to the ground floor and away from windows. If a shelter or safe room is available, it is the best option to prevent storm-related injuries. Not all schools or places of work, however, are equipped with such structures.

When a community shelter is available, citizens are urged to seek refuge as soon as a warning is issued. Residents do not always choose to use these shelters when made available. Examining the reasons why people do not seek appropriate shelter could help managers better coordinate preparedness efforts. Eliminating wasted time and coordinating efforts could prove to be life-saving in the event of a catastrophic weather situation.

Purpose

Evaluating which factors lead to residents choosing not to seek shelter in the event of a tornado warning is extremely important. This study explores factors influencing the use of public community shelters in tornado-prone areas. Those living in tornado-prone areas with access to a community storm shelter, as well as the emergency managers coordinating shelter procedures would benefit from the evaluation of shelter usage data. This is especially the case given that most tornado-related fatalities occur outside of ‘tornado alley’ (Ashley, 2007). For this study, I also plan to discuss the Protective Action Decision Model, people responding to environmental hazards and disasters (Lindell & Perry, 2012). I will then evaluate how this relates to seeking shelter during a tornado warning.

Significance of Project

There are many documented examples of people living through fatal storms because they took shelter in a safe room (Smith, 2013). We also know that residents need ample warning time to seek publicly offered shelter (Balluz, Schieve, Holmes, Kiezak, & Malilay, 2000). Given that the warning time is usually limited, people need to be able to reach the shelter in a timely manner.

We do not know, however, which specific factors lead people to not use shelters that are available to them. Possible reasons include proximity, resources, and transportation concerns to a nearby community shelter. I plan to analyze various factors by distributing surveys to determine areas for improvement. This information would be especially helpful for shelter coordinators. It also speaks to fiscal responsibility and budget concerns since shelters lower overall protection costs (FEMA 2016).

A multi-use shelter would be the most cost effective given the many ways in which it can be utilized. The number of mobile homes in the Southeast region could also explain the higher number of reported fatalities after a tornado strikes (Ashley, 2007). As shown by Ashley (2007) in Table 1, residents of mobile homes have the single highest percentage rate of tornado-related fatalities. This displays a social component as well given that mobile homes are generally located in lower socio-economic areas.

Calls for Further Research

Chui, Schnall, Mertzlufft, Noe, Wolkin, and Spears (2013) call for better ways to alert residents regarding emergencies and public shelter access. Referencing statistics from mortality data the authors correlated fatalities to insufficient available protective structures. They also recommend specialized preparedness plans to help the most vulnerable populations seek shelter (Chui et al., 2013). Ashley (2007) also encountered problems during data analysis due to insufficient demographic information included in tornado accounts. Having a more complete picture of the residents in a community can offer insight into how to better coordinate these preparedness efforts.

(Balluz et al., 2000) proposed creating a personalized action plan for a quick response during a tornado warning. The authors suggested more public education regarding timely tornado protective actions. The literature suggests that proximity to a community shelter and adequate warning time determine if protective actions are taken (Balluz et al., 2000). The authors stressed considering the time it takes for an individual to safely reach a public shelter. If injury were to occur en route, this negates any potential safety the shelter would offer.

Methods

To conduct this study, I will distribute a survey to residents and shelter managers in Alma, AR. Answers regarding family size, proximity to shelter, occupation, education level, salary, race, age, gender, and medical conditions will serve as the data set. I will then evaluate the responses using quantitative statistical analysis.

Limitations

The limitations of this study include the limited number of respondents, as well as only surveying a single shelter. The data will also be specific to shelter use during an extreme weather event. General usage, including how often the shelter is used for non-hazard events, was not accounted for. We also do not know which specific factors lead people to not use shelters that are available to them. Possible reasons to explore include lack of resources and access to a nearby community shelter.

Expected Findings

By analyzing the survey data, I expect to find those with children are the most likely to use the shelter. I believe this is due to the parents’ protective instincts regarding their child’s wellbeing. I also expect to find that those living closest to the shelter, within one square mile, will use the public shelter more.

When considering demographic findings, I expect to see more women using the shelter than men. I also believe this speaks to a protective nature and the need to shield children from the trauma that can occur after an extreme weather event. I also expect those with lower incomes, defined as making less than $30,000 yearly per household, to frequent the shelter during a severe storm. Due to socio-economic factors, these people are less likely to have access to a residential safe room or other viable shelter.

Summary

Examining why people choose to stay in unsafe surroundings when safer structures are available is important when coordinating preparedness efforts. For this reason, shelter managers need to have an awareness regarding the demographics of their community. The more comprehensive the data regarding the inhabitants, the better the managers can plan for the unexpected.

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Tornado Shelter Essay
Artscolumbia
Artscolumbia
Introduction Life can change in an instant when severe weather strikes. Populations living in tornado prone areas have likely experienced this phenomenon firsthand. During these extreme weather events, storm shelters are life savers (Smith, 2013). Failing to take the proper protective actions, however, can contribute to tornado-related injuries (Hammer & Schmidlin, 2002). Taking the proper actions during a severe weather event varies depending on location. When traveling, it is
2022-06-06 04:24:31
Tornado Shelter Essay
$ 13.900 2018-12-31
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