Disaster Preparedness of Mothers Raising Preschool Children: Lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Akemi Matsuzawa, PhD, RN
Yuko Shiroki, RN
Shigeko Tsuda, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Ibaraki Christian University, Hitachi, Japan

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the degree to which mothers raising preschool children in disaster areas are prepared for disasters and to identify factors related to preparedness.  

Methods: A quantitative cross-sectional analytical design was used. Data were collected from 272 mothers whose children attended one of three institutions (two certified public nursery schools and one kindergarten) in one city using a self-administered questionnaire. Participants were asked about the presence or absence of disaster-prevention and disaster-mitigation measures in their homes as well as about the characteristics of such measures, their knowledge and ideas regarding preparedness, and disaster-induced influences. The study was conducted between January and February 2013, and 166 parents returned questionnaires, a 61.0% response rate.

Results: According to the results, more than 90% of participants were prepared for disasters, as they commonly stored flashlights, candles, drinking water, spare batteries, and emergency food. In contrast, fewer mothers discussed the actions to be taken at the time of a disaster with family members, determined how to contact family members and relevant institutions (nursery schools or kindergartens) in the case of an emergency, or informed their children about an emergency phone number. Mothers who were more prepared for disasters were more likely than were other mothers to believe they should be prepared (p = 0.01). 

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest the need to promote and maintain preparedness, including knowing how to contact others in an emergency. Therefore, it is important to provide education and training about disaster preparedness for families and for staff members of the nursery schools and kindergartens in Japan.