Risk = Hazard + Outrage

One of the instrumental parts of my research is Dr. Peter Sandman’s Risk Equation: Risk = Hazard + Outrage.  I’m not going to rehash the basics of the equation here.  To learn more about what the equation is all about, Dr. Sandman does a great job on his website explaining it.  I want to spend some time talking about how his risk equation can be applied to diverse populations.

Before I apply the equation to a diverse population, let’s think for a moment about the greater community that you know well.  I’m talking about your average American.  I’ll start with the outrage part of the equation.  If you know this group well, you have a good idea what level of outrage they have towards common hazards in your area.  Part of this is because you may also be a part of this community, you understand the common experiences that shape their outlook.

Now think about a refugee population in your area.  The outrage to the hazards in your area would be much different.  Did this population experience the same hazards in the same ways?  Did they come from a place that was in the midst of war?   Did they have the same luxuries we are used to (i.e. having power 24 hours a day)?  The worst thing to assume is their experience is the same as ours.

So how can you figure out the outrage of the diverse group you wish to measure towards your common hazards?  My interview tool already does this part for you.  Use the tool and you will have an outrage measurement.  Pick your hazards and adapt the nine outrage factor questions.  The outrage factors were created by Covello and Sandman (2001) and were adapted for this tool.  You don’t have to worry about whether or not the person you are interviewing has experienced the hazard because I already factored that out.

Next you will need to determine your top hazards.  One way is through a hazard vulnerability assessment.  Many localities and states emergency management do this on a regular basis.  If a hazard vulnerability assessment is not available, you probably have a good idea what hazard occur frequently.  You can use the frequency of hazard occurrence to calculate the hazard portion of the equation.

Finally, add the hazard and the outrage to calculate the risk.  While there is not a scale for risk, you will be able to determine what hazards are higher risk than others by comparing the risk numbers.  This can help you understand the unique risk of your local hazards of the diverse populations you measure.   This will help you to communicate the right information to what hazards the diverse population is most worried about and what they should be more worried about.

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