Within the 2013 American Housing Survey, the United States Census Bureau asked US residents how prepared they were for disasters. They assembled a great infographic on their findings, which can be found here. Thanks to Jason S for posting this on LinkedIn last week! (commentary below)
I find many of the numbers to be interesting, and am quite honestly skeptical of several of them. I’m sure the methodology of the Census Bureau’s survey is sound, but I question some of the results based upon my own interactions with the public regarding preparedness. I’d be interested in seeing the questions. I did a bit of digging around and found the Census website for the American Housing Survey, which is located here. There are a variety of data tables available, including breakdowns related to these preparedness questions, but nothing that I can find that specifically provides the questions. From what I’ve seen, it appears the survey was only conducted in major metropolitan areas around the US.
Emergency Water Supply: 54.3% of households state that they have at least three gallons of water for each person in the household. This number seems high to me. I’m left wondering if some people may have thought this included tap water?
Non-Perishable Emergency Food: 82% of households said they have enough non-perishable food to sustain their family for three days. Have you looked in your pantry lately? I fully agree with this number. You may not be able to make full meals or have them be nutritionally balanced, but I do believe that most pantries can provide adequate sustenance for a family for three days.
Prepared Emergency Evacuation Kit: 51.5% of households say they have one. Really? I’m not convinced.
Emergency Meeting Location: 37.4% of households say they have an identified emergency meeting location. While the number still might be a little high, I think it’s within a realistic range.
Communication Plan: 33% of households say they have a communication plan which includes a contingency for the disruption of cell service. Same as the previous item, perhaps a little high, but I think it’s in the ballpark.
Evacuation Vehicles: 88.6% of households say they have a vehicle or vehicles able to carry all household members, pets, and supplies up to 50 miles away. I did a bit of digging around, and this number seems accurate, as about 90% of US households have vehicles. I’m a bit surprised about how high the number is considering that this survey canvassed major metropolitan areas, though.
Evacuation Funds: 69.8% of households said they have access to up to $2000 in the event of evacuation. In all, between cash and credit, I can believe this number. They may have to get out of the disaster area, however, to access funds electronically.
House or Building Number Clearly Visible: 77.5% of households said they have this. Having worked as a firefighter and EMT for many years, I’d agree that somewhere between 2/3 to ¾ of building numbers are visible.
Generator Present: 18.3% of households say they have a generator present. All in all a sound number, I believe, but perhaps a bit high for urban areas.
Access to Financial Information: 76.8% of households say they have access to their financial information. This is a question I’d like to see the wording on, but aside from taking time to dig through old bills, I’m skeptical. Emergency Financial First Aid Kits are a great idea and should be maintained regularly.
I’m hopeful that many of these numbers are reflections of reality, but even if they are we have a long way to go. One of the best resources out there is WWW.READY.GOV. Everyone should check it out and make some progress toward individual and family preparedness. First responders and emergency managers – this means you, too!
What are your thoughts on these statistics? Those of you in other nations – what kind of preparedness data have you seen for your country?
© 2016 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP
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