Research and experience have shown that it can be difficult to get citizens to pay attention to risk messages and preparedness information in the absence of an actual emergency. As the use computerized systems that alert the public to hazards by automatically ringing their home phones increases, we thought it important to ask if tests of these “call down” systems can also be used to convey preemergency information. We worked with a local government to add instructions on how to shelter-in-place to the message on a routine test of a call down system. We then surveyed a test group and a control group before and after the test call and a second control group on after the call. The results indicate that the test call raised awareness of the emergency notification system without generating undue concern about the possibility of a chemical accident. Those who received the test call demonstrated significant improvements in their knowledge of how to shelter-in-place while no such improvement was observed in those who did not get the call. While the nature of the sample used in this study limits generalizability, we feel this outcome is positive enough to warrant further exploration of this method of disseminating risk information and preparedness instructions.


Urban, Community and Regional Planning



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/crp_fac/58