Certain groups of people may suffer disproportionately during disaster events. Social vulnerability indicators, such as age, race and wealth, and their locations in a community, can help inform disaster relief preparation.
Records of Los Angeles County house fires over a five-year period, and American Red Cross aid provided in response to them, were mapped to look at the connection between actual events and expectations of risk based on vulnerability indicators. The event locations were then compared with the vulnerability indicators. Fire events were found to occur more frequently in more vulnerable areas, and Red Cross aid was found to have an even stronger relationship to those places. The findings suggest that these indicators speak beyond vulnerability and relate to patterns of fire risk.
- Fire risk can be largely explained by well-known, well-documented, and easily accessible demographic indicators such as wealth, age, race, population density, and areas that are isolated by language.
- GIS data can be reliably used to strategically place logistical assets and target disaster-awareness outreach to the communities that are most likely to need them.
- Fire data provided through the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and the data collected by the Red Cross on its assistance activities are effective in explaining important patterns in risk, and support each other in explaining those patterns.
- The analyses reinforce the reasoning behind some efforts already underway at the American Red Cross, such as the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.
Source: Mapping fires and American Red Cross aid using demographic indicators of vulnerability. Disasters. Vol 41 (2), pg. 409-426. (April 2017).
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