By eerie coincidence, about three weeks ago, we added a question to our daily tracking poll asking people about their overall preparedness for potential disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, or terrorist attacks. With the impending approach of Hurricane Sandy this week, the most recent results provide interesting, if disconcerting, insights into how ready various households might be.
The results indicate an alarmingly low level of emergency preparedness, particularly in the US Northeast and among lower-income households, where the storm is expected to hit the hardest.
In the past week, we surveyed 2,666 online US consumers, asking how prepared they consider themselves for a disaster or emergency. Responses were reweighted where necessary to reflect the full US adult population.
It appears that few US households have taken significant steps to prepare their homes for an emergency like Hurricane Sandy. Overall, only 8% of respondents considered themselves “Very Prepared” for a potential disaster like Hurricane Sandy. 32% said they are “Somewhat Prepared,” 30% said they are “A Little Prepared,” and 30% said they are “Not At All Prepared.”
The results indicate a clear divide among respondents based on geography and demographics. 36% of respondents in the US Northeast, the projected path of Hurricane Sandy, and 33% in the US Midwest consider themselves Not At All Prepared. Those in the US West are best prepared with over 13% considering themselves Very Prepared.
A large disparity also exists based on the household income of respondents. A full 50% of respondents who make more than $150,000 annually consider themselves either Somewhat or Very Prepared. Meanwhile, only 39% of households making under $75,000 annually are equally prepared.
Similar trends can be seen among respondents based on their age. 48% of respondents aged 65 and older and 43% aged 55-64 are at least Somewhat Prepared for a natural disaster. The youngest respondents are far less ready. A full 39% of respondents aged 18-24 and 35% aged 24-34 consider themselves Not At All Prepared for any kind of major emergency.
It should come as no surprise that, with age and experience, we found a higher level of overall preparedness. It’s concerning, however, that those households in the direct geographic path of Hurricane Sandy are the most-ill prepared. Moreover, those with the lowest income and, therefore, most likely to live in a smaller and older home are also most at risk of severe damage from high winds and flooding.
Our thoughts go out to the millions of people possibly affected by the approaching storm. For the rest of you, please think about the steps you can take to prepare your homes in the future.