With increased risk and financial impacts from different hazards in recent years, building community resilience through public and private stakeholder participation has become a priority for researchers and policy makers (Cutter et al. 2008; NRC 2012). Risk communication has been identified as a crucial component of community resilience-building efforts, and a precursor to undertaking disaster risk reduction initiatives during different phases of emergency management (Mileti and Peek 2002; Morgan et al. 2002; Hooke and Rogers 2005; Fischhoff 2009). The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015―2030, a recent United Nation’s initiative to build resilience and a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005―2015, has also identified the need to develop, maintain and strengthen a multi-hazard, multi-cultural and people-centered forecasting and early warning system for disaster risk communication (UN 2015).
Risk communication, as defined by U.S. federal policy, "is any purposeful exchange of scientific information between interested parties regarding health or environmental risks" (Covello et al. 1987, p. 222). In essence, risk communication is an interactive process that allows for multi-faceted and multi-directional exchanges of information about a hazard event and its associated risks among stakeholders (Plough and Krimsky 1987; NRC 1989). The focus of risk communication is to provide accurate information about a hazard, its potential risks and possible consequences, and required mitigation steps in a timely manner to individuals and communities so that all can take preparatory actions to mitigate the hazard’s impacts.