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Behavioural and psychological responses of the public during a major power outage: A literature review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Original languageEnglish
Article number101226
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Early online date2 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

King's Authors


Widespread electrical power outages pose a serious risk to modern societies. During an outage, the behavioural and psychological responses of members of the public will influence the overall health, economic and social impacts. In this review, we identified 47 studies containing data relating to public reactions after a major loss of electricity. These highlighted eight key messages: 1) Preparing the public should reduce the impact of an outage; 2) Specific vulnerable groups including older adults and those with psychiatric or medical conditions will require targeted help to prepare; 3) Clear public health communications will be needed to reduce, for example, carbon monoxide or food poisoning; 4) The loss of communication infrastructure is likely to be an important stressor among the public; 5) Panic is unlikely; 6) Acts of altruism will, probably, outweigh acts of criminality; 7) The public's information needs will focus on ‘what has happened’ and ‘when will power be restored’;

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