Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Science (DSc) in Emergency Management

Department

Emergency Management

Committee Chair

Tanveer Islam, Associate Professor of Emergency Management

Abstract

The devastating wildfires in the Fort McMurray, Alberta, region in May of 2016 forced the evacuation of almost 90,000 people from their homes. This study examines and compares risk perceptions and evacuation behaviours between young adults, 18 to 24 years of age and older adults, 25 years and older, and between genders. The study participants (n = 299) were students and staff at Keyano College in Fort McMurray. They indicated only slight differences in their perceptions of risk and their evacuation behaviours between both the age groups and by gender. Environmental cues were significant indicators of risk for all participants. The majority of respondents (82 percent) fled the day the mandatory evacuation order was issued. Social media and local news were the most relied on sources of disaster and evacuation information utilized by respondents. Facebook was the most popular for social media platforms. Emergency managers must ensure effective use of these two information sources to communicate disaster information.

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