Poll: Elderly women know best in disasters

JAPAN - Many women aged 60 or older would opt to evacuate with the people around them during a disaster rather than wait for their own families to gather, according to a survey by a private research organisation.

The tendency marked a sharp contrast from most other age brackets, who primarily said they would evacuate with their family members. Others should follow the attitude of such elderly women as there must be no delays in emergency evacuations, according to an expert.

The Research Center for Safety and Security Co. in Tokyo conducted a survey on how people would evacuate when an evacuation advisory or order is issued. The multiple-choice survey was conducted door-to-door at 200 locations in August on 1,200 people aged 15 to 79, who were chosen to reflect the nation's demographic composition in terms of age groups and gender.

Overall, 55 per cent of respondents said they would evacuate after their family members gathered. Those who said that they would evacuate with people who happened to be with them accounted for the second-largest portion at 27 per cent, and those who said they would take along people who cannot evacuate by themselves accounted for 10 per cent.

By gender and age group, those who picked the "with family" answer accounted for the largest portion in most categories. Among respondents in their 30s and 40s, those who chose the answer accounted for about 60 to 70 per cent regardless of gender.

Among women aged 60 or older, however, the largest portion, 42 per cent, said they would evacuate with those who happened to be with them, followed by the "with family" choice at 35 per cent. Among men in this age group, those who picked the "with family" choice accounted for the largest portion at 47 per cent.

Hirotada Hirose, head of the institute and a professor emeritus at Tokyo Women's Christian University specialising in disaster psychology, said: "[The results suggest] those women accept the reality that they can't evacuate as fast as they could when they were young and that they are more adaptable [than men]. So they seem to be trying to evacuate as fast as possible."

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