Preparing for flooding in England and Wales: the role of risk perception and the social context in driving individual action

Alex Y. Lo, Faith Chan

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Flooding is a major threat to the local communities in the UK, and the risks are increasing due to climate change. Encouraging homeowners to prepare for the consequences of catastrophic flooding is imperative. This study aims to examine the ways in which individuals’ risk perceptions and socio-cultural characteristics co-determine the preparedness for flood hazards. It is based on a social survey about household arrangements that can reduce the economic losses arising from flooding and enhance community resilience. A total of 485 responses were solicited from homeowners in England and Wales. Results confirm that the intention to act is socially motivated. This indicates the need for addressing the role of social networks and engagement with local community in enhancing community resilience to flooding. On the other hand, the effect of risk-related considerations is complicated. Perceived severity of flood damage is associated with intended actions, whereas risk characteristics are not. This implies that although providing relevant risk information to the public is crucial, appealing to the feelings of fears and uncertainties is less likely to be effective in driving actions for managing flood risks than has been usually assumed. The findings have practical implications for policy-making and climate risk communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-387
Number of pages21
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Climate change
  • Community resilience
  • Flooding
  • Risk communication
  • Risk perception
  • Social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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