“I’m using video games technology to improve education & communication of volcanic hazards in the Caribbean.” That was my #1tweetresearch last week and is quite often my answer when people ask me about my research. The reactions I get are generally very mixed. Some people think it’s a great idea and can see it’s potential use whilst others are more skeptical and not quite sure how I can call it ‘Science’. Whatever your reaction may be to this type of research, the problem of creating a fun and memorable method to communicate the hazards associated with natural disasters has been ongoing and tackled in a number of different medias. During my first year of research I’ve encountered several of these, primarily aimed at younger generations and some more conventional than others. So here are some of my favourite methods of creative hazard communication!
A more common method than probably you would first imagine, they are a light hearted way to communicate about natural hazards. The following examples are the ‘Silly Timmy’ comic strip created by Justin Sharpe (who also has this great website for natural hazards). There are around 40 strips focusing on a variety of natural hazards from tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes and flooding. You can check them out here, but just for a flavour here are two of my favourites!
There is also another comic created by the Thai Red Cross called ‘Mr Radar‘ which was developed to educate children about flooding hazards. It’s quite long but covers all the essential points about preparing and coping with flooding hazards!
Cartoons & Animations
There are lots of cartoons and animations around for all different types of natural hazards. One of my favourites I’ve come across more recently is ‘The Pacific Adventures of Climate Crab’ created through a collaboration between the Red Cross and the Australian Government’s Pacific-Australia Climate Change and Adaptation Planning Program (PACCSAP). It’s designed to educate about the El Nino and La Nina phenomena and it covers aspects of what they mean but also how to prepare.
Another great video (also with crabs) was created by San Diego County Office of Emergency Services to educate children about tsunamis. Not only does this video have all the information you need to know about what to do it also has a tsunami song (it’s quite catchy…).
Finally (and definitely my favourite), you may have heard about the use of puppets to educate about volcanic hazards around Merapi in Indonesia but here is another example of their use. The creators of Sesame Street & The Muppets have developed several videos relating to natural hazards including flooding, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. They’re fantastically visual and simple to follow and are used around the world. They were developed by a charity called ‘No Strings’ who train people to become puppeteers for this very purpose. They have also made videos using puppets about the dangers of land mines, the conflict in Syria and other political issues. Here is the trailer for the ‘Tales of Disaster’ films:
And if you have more time, here is their volcano edition:
Needless to say these are just a few example of how information about natural hazards is being communicated but I think you’ll agree they’re all creative, engaging and memorable!