Though nearly half of Americans say they believe a major natural disaster or terrorist attack is likely to occur in their area in the next five years, a new survey shows more than three quarters admit they are ill-prepared should it occur.
"In this day and age, following the tragic events that have occurred here on American soil and that devastated so many thousands of our friends, family and fellow citizens, it astounds me that so many Americans do not have a plan," said John Bryant, founder and chairman of Operation HOPE.
"And yet, despite believing that emergencies or disasters will happen, Americans don’t seem to place emergency planning high on their list of priorities. We must get to the bottom of this, and we must instill a need for preparation," he said.
Of the 500-plus respondents, 44 percent think a major national disaster will occur in their area in the next five years, and 32 percent think a terrorist attack will occur in their area in the next five years.
The survey also found that nearly half (47 percent) of Americans do not know their community’s evacuation route, and the same percentage does not have an emergency contact or safe place identified to call or go to if disaster hits.
The survey was conducted by Qorvis Communications’ iQ Research & Consulting Practice and HOPE Coalition America, the emergency preparedness and response division of Operation HOPE.
"With more than 2.9 million people displaced after Hurricane Katrina and at least 68 natural disasters in the past year, Americans must understand the need to prepare for unexpected emergencies in order to minimize loss both physically and financially," said Jena Roscoe, senior vice president and chief of government affairs, Operation HOPE.
"These findings reveal a need to institute more educational programs on emergency preparedness."
HOPE Coalition America commissioned Qorvis to survey America’s general level of preparedness — both physical and financial. Some of the findings included:
• When asked what they would save if they could save only one item in the face of disaster, the highest percentage (35 percent) of Americans chose financial documents.
• More than half (53 percent) of Americans said they have two months salary saved in case of unexpected job termination.
• Only 25 percent of pet owners surveyed have a plan or place to care for their pet(s) in case of emergency.
• Eight-three percent of survey respondents said they would most likely NOT buy emergency preparedness items or kits as gifts for others over the holidays.
Those surveyed were also asked what important personal and financial documents they had copies of in case of a disaster. Here are percentages of people who currently do have the recommended household items and documents saved in case of emergency or disaster:
Questioned about what supplies they had on hand, these are the percentages who had the recommended items:
• Three-day supply of bottled water: 47 percent
• Three-day supply of non-perishable food: 65 percent
• Battery powered radio and Batteries: 69 percent
• Flashlight and Batteries: 91 percent
• First aid kit: 73 percent
• Dust masks: 25 percent
• Signal flare: 17 percent
• Fire Extinguisher: 67 percent
Asked about financial documents, these are the percentages who had copies of the recommended items:
• Personal/financial documents:
• Birth certificate: 77 percent
• Marriage license (if married): 74 percent
• Social security card: 85 percent
• Will: 50 percent
• Powers of authority (personal/property): 50 percent
• Vehicle registration/ownership papers: 84 percent
• Tax statement(s): 69 percent
• Insurance documents: 73 percent
• Bank and credit account info/statements: 79 percent
• Mortgage statement: 68 percent
HOPE Coalition America offers emergency budget counseling and step-by-step emergency preparation guidelines to Americans, particularly those in low-income urban areas and areas prone to or recently affected by disaster.
A copy can be downloaded at www.operationhope.org