Evaluating natural hazards data to assess the risk to your California home
For this assignment, imagine you are an emergency manager, property insurance agent, or simply a concerned property owner. In this role, you are to use a series of maps and natural hazard data to evaluate the risk to a building structure of your choice in the state of California. As a responsible assessor, you need to be aware of the exposure risk to the building. For each hazard, you will rate the potential risk in two dimensions: (1) Probability – The probability that a hazardous event "may" occur, and (2) Severity of Impact – A risk, by its very nature, always has a negative impact. However, the size of the impact varies in terms of cost and impact on health, human life, or some other critical factor.
You will assess the severity of the hazard to your building based on the extent (danger level) of previous, historic hazards that have occurred. After quantitatively assessing the probability and severity of the hazard to the building, you are to create a chart representing risk (probability x severity) of natural hazards to your building. After determining the top three hazards posing the most threat to your building, build a preparedness and mitigation plan for these hazards.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Risk Assessment, Part 2 Assignment File (Microsoft Word 168kB Apr11 14)
Teaching Notes and Tips
- collecting the student's building address before the project and confirming it is appropriate for the mapped hazards dataset; for example, a student living in the desert near Barstow may not find this exercise as meaningful as a student living in Los Angeles and might be encouraged to look into using a family member's or friend's house.
- Explain that proximity of previous hazards to their house is used as a proxy for probability of occurrence; for example, if they live near a long fault segment that has produced >M5 earthquakes in the past, the likelihood that this fault could produce another M5 in the future.
- For probability, draw a simple example in the classroom first before the students explore the large WebGIS dataset. For example, draw a symbol representing the student's building and then draw symbols representing the earthquake at various distances from the building. Lastly, draw three "buffer" circles, or circles with a radius of 25, 50, and 100 mi, and ask the students if the earthquakes are close to the building (within the 25 mi circle) or far from the building (outside of the 50 mi buffer). If there are earthquakes have have occurred near the building then the probability is high. For severity, consider the magnitude or scale of the hazard. If these earthquakes are small in magnitude then the severity, or degree of damage, might be lower than if these are large magnitude events.
References and Resources
Part 1: http://bit.ly/MSln4dAll data is freely available for download in either ArcGIS or Google Earth formats from California state or national government agency websites.
Part 2: http://bit.ly/1ltsXkc