news of a tornado, not a warning of a tornado. People were gathered at community centers, and so they did not have access to radio. Others were home watching Spanish-language television, which was not broadcasting the message. These gaps in message receipt led to a large number of people not taking the appropriate protective action.


The panelists and participants in the discussion following the panel offered the following observations regarding communicating with at-risk populations:

  • Affordability and accessibility have to be considered in developing warning systems and designing new technologies. A technology that is out of reach for a large segment of the population loses a great deal of its usefulness.

  • Poor literacy is another challenge, which suggests that message testing needs to be done with a diverse set of test users.

  • In addition to taking into account the challenges faced by elderly persons, it is also important to consider the use of alerts and warnings by children. For example, how will a child who is home alone respond to an alert?

  • Credibility of the person or system conveying an alert or warning message is critical to ensuring that people take appropriate action, and people tend to trust “people like themselves.” This suggests the need for attention to diversity in educational campaigns and message formulation.

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