Print version ISSN 0016-7169
LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ, E. Risk perception and coping strategies for risk from Popocatépetl volcano, Mexico. Geofís. Intl [online]. 2009, vol.48, n.1, pp. 133-147. ISSN 0016-7169.
The goal of this study is to explore risk perception and coping strategies used by adults living near the volcano Popocatépetl in Mexico. Qualitative and semi-quantitative data were collected with a questionnaire from 192 adult respondents. These respondents were divided into four groups (G1-G4) according to the risk zone in which they live (generally the degree of hazard decreases with increasing distances from the volcano). Analyses of the completed questionnaires were made according to sex and age range of the respondents. Not surprisingly volcanic risk was perceived as more worrisome by people living in the zone nearest the volcano's crater (G1). However, when we asked what risks could affect them directly, perceptions changed, and volcanic risk was appraised as the most important risk potentially affecting them and their homes for risk zones G1, G2 and G3. Despite sporadic information given by the Civil Defense authorities, a high percentage of people exposed to volcanic hazards do not feel prepared to face an eruptive event, and people have no strategy to cope with general perceived risks. A high percentage of participants in the four groups stated that they would leave the area if an eruptive event occurred. This statement reflects the serious misinformation, because civil authorities do not require people living in the third and fourth zones to evacuate. The results of study demonstrate the critical need to reinforce public information campaigns regarding volcanic risk in communities vulnerable to direct damage in the event of a stronger eruption of the volcano Popocatépetl.
Keywords : Risk perception; environmental risks; volcanic risks; coping strategies; Popocatépetl.