So How Prepared for the Unexpected Are Americans? Survey Says…

June 13, 2007

As the 2007 hurricane season opens, memories of the horrible 2005 season may have begun to fade from people’s memories, especially as the 2006 season was relatively storm free. But, with one named storm already in the books for this year, are people prepared to face what might be?

Americans say they are prepared to face unexpected events. Nine in ten (91%) say they are prepared to take someone to the hospital closest to their home in an emergency and 84 percent are prepared to put out a small cooking fire on the stove. Three-quarters are prepared to live for a few days with the supplies they have on hand if there was a catastrophic disaster and they could not get to the store. Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults are prepared to turn off the electricity, gas and water in their home.

Looking more specifically into one area of preparedness, just over half (58%) say they are prepared for a long-term power outage or a disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, flood, wild land fire or terrorist attack by having the necessary supplies, including extra food and water for three days. However, the number of those who say they are “very prepared” is just 14 percent compared to the 44 percent who are somewhat prepared.

These are some of the results of a Harris Poll of 2,563 adults surveyed online between April 10 and 16, 2007 by Harris Interactive. This survey was conceived and developed by Harris Interactive and was not commissioned by any organization. However, Harris sought and received input from the American Red Cross on the subject of emergency preparedness.

Actual Preparations Made
The American Red Cross recommends five specific actions to be taken in order to prepare for a disaster, yet less than half of U.S. adults say that they have done any of these. Just under half (48%) have completed first aid or CPR training, while just over one-third (36%) have made a specific evacuation plan for how they would leave their home in the case of an emergency situation. Just over one-quarter (28%) say they have put together a disaster supplies kit with water, food, medicine, and other supplies, while the same number have selected a person who lives outside their geographic region that family members can contact if they become separated after an emergency. One-quarter (24%) have established a specific meeting place to reunite in the event they and their family cannot return home.

Preparedness with Pets
One of the issues for many of those who have had to evacuate from areas is what to do with pets. Since six out of 10 (59%) households have pets, this is an important issue for many. Yet, of those with pets in their household, only one-third (37%) actually have a plan in place for their pet or pets in the case of any emergency or disaster. Knowing that most hotels and shelters will not accept pets, if these people had to evacuate, more than four in five pet owners (84%) say they would do so and bring their pet with them. Just seven percent would evacuate and leave their pet behind while four percent would not comply with the evacuation order and stay at home with their pet.

While majorities of Americans say they are prepared, this does not seem to be the case. When asked if they had done certain action items, majorities say they have not.

Source: Harris Interactive

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