Diverse responses to eruption warning transmitted via different channels

Jean C. Tayag
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, C.P. Garcia Ave., University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines.
Tel. : +63-2-927-45-24, Fax: +63-2-929-83-66,
E-mail: jctayag@philonline.com.ph

The ultimate indicator of a warning system’s effectiveness is the warning recipient’s response to the warning – whether or not he responds appropriately – prepares for evacuation and evacuates as and when advised. One crucial factor which determines the warning recipient’s response is the transmitter of warning – the one who or which brings the warning directly to him. In some active volcanoes in the Philippines where many of the inhabitants at risk live in remote rural areas and at great distances from one another, the use of commercial radio to transmit warnings and evacuation orders has been tried. A comparative study conducted by PHIVOLCS at Mayon Volcano and Taal Volcano Island showed that in Mayon Volcano, the inhabitants at risk tend to be more responsive to warnings and evacuation orders if these are delivered directly by barangay (village) or municipal leaders than when these are transmitted through impersonal channels like the radio. Majority respond to warnings and evacuation orders received through the radio by seeking confirmation from the barangay or municipal leader before complying. In comparison, in Taal Volcano Island, most of the inhabitants are equally responsive to warnings and evacuation orders received from community leaders and by broadcast. The difference in attitude between the Taal Volcano Island and Mayon Volcano residents was attributable in part to the reporting habits/styles of popular local radio announcers and consistency of the radio announcers’ warning with folk observed eruption precursors.