The impact of behavior on the risk of injury and death during an earthquake: a simulation-based study

Stav Shapira, Tsafrir Levi, Yaron Bar-Dayan, Limor Aharonson-Daniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The use of casualty modeling in the field of disaster management is well established. Nevertheless, it is currently based almost exclusively on damage to the built environment and fails to consider additional factors that may influence the number of casualties in a given event, such as behavioral features of the exposed population. The present study has taken an innovative approach and integrated behavioral traits of residents in a high-risk area in northern Israel, near the Dead Sea Transform, into a well-known casualty estimation simulation. The expected behavioral characteristics of residents during an earthquake, in city sectors with different socioeconomic rankings, were assessed using a designated survey and were applied into the casualty estimation process. In order to test the sensitivity of the behavioral factor, twelve synthetic earthquake scenarios were designed. The results shed light on the relationship between specific behavioral strategies and casualty projections and suggest that loss estimation models that do not take behavioral factors into account may overestimate the projected number of casualties. Households with low socioeconomic status were found to be more vulnerable in terms of risk of injury and death compared with those ranked higher. The present study shows the importance of raising public awareness regarding proper behavior prior to and during the event which can help increase resilience of communities, mitigate risks and losses and ultimately save lives. Further implications of these results and possible ways of improving casualty modeling and community resilience are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1059-1074
Number of pages16
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Casualty modeling
  • Disaster resilience
  • Earthquake
  • Self-protective behavior
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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