As communities begin to rebuild after the devastating wildfires this year, we’re reflecting back on the various projects our team has worked on where we were able to help clients prepare for, respond to, and recover from wildfires. Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to support numerous communities across the West Coast and beyond manage their wildfire threat, which is increasing every year. There are many reasons why the risk of wildfire is on the rise, but there is mounting empirical evidence and a growing number of experts in the scientific community that have pointed to global warming as one of the many reasons. There are many perspectives to this position and this post is not intended to voice partisan views on the subject. However, we do want to take the opportunity to highlight how science–specifically applied research methods–can help elevate our understanding of our community’s risk and vulnerability to wildfires.
In October 2017, San Diego County recognized the 10-year anniversary of the October 2007 wildfires which burned over 370,000 acres, destroyed 2,590 structures, and resulted in 10 deaths. During this time of remembrance and reflection, the County of San Diego Office of Emergency Services (OES) also sought to identify if and how residents had changed their hazard risk behaviors and preparedness habits since the 2007 wildfires. The OES had completed a preparedness study in 2007, and they wanted to identify any changes that had occurred since 2007. With the anniversary date looming only two months away, San Diego OES hired ISC to create and distribute a social scientific study to investigate evidence-based metrics of community preparedness.
The survey was distributed to a representative sample of San Diego County residents over age 18 and in multiple languages and formats. The 2017 survey also addressed errors to sampling, coverage, measurement, and nonresponses that existed in the 2007 study, in order to increase the precision and accuracy of the findings. We ensured that the data results would be reliable within a 95% confidence level.
The study provided valuable insights into respondent behavior including but not limited to:
In October 2017, ISC delivered a detailed report to San Diego OES that provided descriptive insights into the preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation behaviors of their residents. Furthermore, ISC’s data analysis of the scientific data offered San Diego OES with valuable insight on how to improve their various disaster preparedness programs and enhance the community’s steady-state of readiness.
San Diego OES launched a public information campaign as a result of the 2017 study that sought to educate residents about the dangers of wildfires and how they can better prepare.
This was not ISC’s only community disaster preparedness study. Learn more about other clients we’ve completed disaster preparedness studies for and how it can help your community’s ability to respond, recover, and build a resilient community. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.