- Evacuation strategies have been established for most user groups in tsunami inundation zones; however, surprisingly little information is available for a growing visitor group - surfers. For near-shore tsunami events, Oregon surfers, who recreate in the nearshore region, must make life or death choices when deciding what to do in the case of a Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake. First hand accounts from recent global tsunamis indicate that surfers may improve their opportunities for self-rescue, if they identify early warning signs. Site specific characteristics also matter. At some surf spots, the wave breaks close to shore and there is high ground nearby. At other sites, surfers are not able to exit the water and reach high ground prior to the arrival of the first wave. In order to reach out to surfers and share potentially life-saving information, more research is needed regarding surfers’ perceptions of the risks involved in surfing and the tsunami hazard, and how their perceptions compare to other risks in everyday life. This study attempts to better understand how Oregon surfers perceive risk in general, and specifically tsunami risks. Furthermore, do surfers’ risk perceptions also lead to positive intent to change behavior? To address these questions, survey data is used to examine the relationships between perceptions of surfing, tsunami, and every day risks, as well as interactions with demographic information, perceptions of locus-of-control, and risk mitigation behaviors. Results from this study will have important Implications for outreach and education within this community, as well as contribute to our scientific understanding of this understudied population. Descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U tests, non-parametric correlations, and a path analysis are used to address these issues. Surfers in the study correctly identified their own board as the greatest surfing hazard. Participants tended to over estimate surfing hazards when compared to general hazards. Locus of control did not have statistically significant relationships with any of the other variables. A path model including demographic traits, general risk perceptions, surfing risk perceptions, and surfing mitigation behaviors was supported by the path analysis. Qualitative insights from conversations with surfers indicate that they are able to understand technical information about tsunamis and are hungry for more knowledge.
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