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Hugh D. Walpole, Robyn S. Wilson, Sarah M. McCaffrey
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Fire Communication & Education
Wildland Urban Interface

NRFSN number: 20985
FRAMES RCS number: 58947
Record updated:

Evacuation is the preferred method in the U.S. for preserving public safety in wildfire. However, alternatives such as staying and defending are used both in North America and Australia. Dangerous delays in the decision to evacuate are also common. One contributor to the evacuation decision is attachment to the home, however, little research has examined its role in evacuation decisions. We explored the role of home attachment in the evacuation decision and the effectiveness of communication and other cues in motivating safer, more decisive response actions. Using an online sample (n = 268), we conducted a 3 (information) × 2 (physical cue) experimental design. We hypothesized that higher home attachment would increase intentions to stay and defend the home, or to wait and see before making the decision to evacuate. We also hypothesized that the effect of information and cues on behavioral intentions would be conditional on residents’ attachment to their home. Surprisingly, with high attachment, defense benefit information and the presence of physical cues decreased waiting intentions. With low attachment, defense benefit information increased waiting intentions and cues had no effect. Our findings suggest that caution should be used when communicating about the benefits of home defense in isolation, as this may motivate decision delays.


Walpole, Hugh D.; Wilson, Robyn S.; McCaffrey, Sarah M. 2020. If you love it, let it go: the role of home attachment in wildfire evacuation decisions. Environment Systems and Decisions 40(1):29-40.

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