Floods are natural phenomena and flood hazards cannot be eliminated. Thus it is necessary to learn living with this hazard. Floods represent a threat only with respect to human society, giving humans a central role: through location and through perception. Adequate perception of flood hazard is one of the premises to lower the vulnerability of the society and is an important element of non-structural measures for reducing flood risk. Public perception of flood hazard is essential for decision-making at all steps of flood risk assessment. The results of an investigation of the perception of flood hazard in five countries of the North Sea region of Europe are presented. 4000 Europeans living in flood-prone areas have been involved in the study. Stratified polls and focus groups were used as investigation tools. The study revealed many similarities in the perception of flood hazard among Europeans, such as limited interest in flood hazard, passiveness and reluctant attitude towards moving, while, for example, reckoning on flooding of their own houses differed between countries. The collected information offered a necessary background to streamline flood hazard information to laymen as well as for the second phase of the study, namely a search for consensus between public and authorities about what level of risk is tolerable.

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