Allstate Survey Reports Americans Not Ready for Spring Storms; Less Than Half Prepared with Disaster Plan

March 2, 2004

Eighty-four percent of Americans say it is important to have a disaster plan, but less than half of these individuals reportedly have actually created a plan in the event they are affected by a natural disaster. With spring approaching, Americans are not prepared for storms that may occur, according to a survey recently conducted by Allstate Insurance Company.

Though tornados occur throughout the year, the peak months for tornado activity are March through August. The beginning of tornado season in early March marks the start of spring storm season. How damaging can spring storms be?

During the spring of 2003 Allstate Insurance Company responded to 33 weather-related catastrophes across the country where families saw their homes damaged or destroyed by weather events including tornados, straight-line winds, rain and hail. Among those who have created a disaster plan, Allstate survey results show an alarming 71 percent of Americans have not identified the safest places to go in their home as part of their plan.

“Educating your family is an essential part of creating an effective storm preparedness plan,” said Donna Rosemeyer, assistant vice president of property claims, Allstate Insurance Company. “Spring storms often develop with little or no warning. Knowing where to go and what to do before the storm can save lives.”

Not going to happen to me…

Twenty-eight percent of Americans surveyed who do not have a disaster plan say they don’t need a plan and don’t believe a natural disaster will occur in their neighborhood. Another 18 percent say they’ve simply never thought about creating a disaster plan for their family.

Should where you live affect whether you prepare…

The survey reveals that residents of the South are the most likely to say they have a disaster plan. Fifty-five percent of Southerners stated they have a disaster preparedness plan, compared to 42 percent of Westerners and only 39 percent of Americans living in the Northeast or North Central United States.

The gender gap…

When asked how important it is to have a disaster preparedness plan, 58 percent of women surveyed say it is “very important” to have a disaster plan, compared to less than half of men surveyed (49 percent).

Creating a plan…

Steps individuals can take to produce a storm preparedness plan include:

1. Find the safest place in a home to protect family members from an approaching storm and share this location with them.

Stay away from windows. Most tornado-related injuries and deaths result from flying debris. Whenever possible, go to a basement or storm shelter. If there is no basement or storm shelter available, find a small room in the center of the home such as a closet or bathroom and try to use heavy furniture as additional shelter.

2. Teach family members the difference between weather watches and warnings and obey official warnings and advice regarding severe weather.

A watch is used by the National Weather Service to alert the possibility of severe weather such as severe, damaging thunderstorms or tornados. A warning is issued when the severe weather is actually occurring. Once a warning has been issued, residents should pay close attention to weather developments and take shelter until the danger has passed.

3. Create an accurate, up-to-date home inventory before a storm strikes.

Before severe weather damages or destroys a home, walk through each room of the house and create a list of everything owned. If possible, include video and pictures of each room with you’re the inventory. Store the home inventory outside of the home, for example in a bank safety deposit box.

4. Designate a family meeting spot in case a disaster strikes when family members are away from home.

Designate two meeting spots, one right outside the home in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case a disaster strikes when family members are away from home. Make sure everyone knows essential addresses and phone numbers.

5. Create a disaster supply kit for the family.

A disaster supply kit, stored in the identified storm safe area of the house, should include a first aid kit, water, flashlights, battery-operated radio and extra batteries.

“Preparing for a disaster should also include being financially prepared,” added Rosemeyer. “Before a spring storm hits, homeowners should review their insurance coverage with their agent to make sure they are adequately insured.”

For additional information on spring storm preparedness, including a checklist of things you can do to prepare, go to the catastrophe information center at .

Allstate created the study in conjunction with Roper ASW. Using a random digit dialing methodology, Roper ASW surveyed 1,013 consumers from Feb. 13-15, 2004. Results from the study have been weighted to be reflective of the U.S. population. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

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