The psychology behind forest fires and how to cope with the stress
August 28, 2015
In this Globe and Mail Q&A article by Ian Bailey, Royal Roads' Disaster and Emergency Management program head Prof. Robin Cox describes the reaction of individuals and communities affected by forest fires.
Cox's work and research shows that people affected by disasters feel stressed by the uncertainty - fear and anxiety are common, as are shorter fuses and conflict. Cox says some individuals "cope by being very optimistic and moving into action quickly", while others retreat, withdraw and avoid things. She says depending on the scenario, everyone will react differently.
Cox says what we do know about effective coping is "the sooner people can get into having some sense of control over their lives by doing things, the better for them." She also suggests for those in a disaster situation like an evacuation due to forest fire, practicing good "self care" is important - if there are other activities in your life that you can reduce your expectations on, "let yourself off the hook on that a little bit."