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U.S. Coastal Residents Unprepared for Disasters

July 1, 2013

Despite the fact that much of the Eastern coastline of the United States was impacted by Hurricane Sandy last fall, and the 2013 hurricane season is already upon us, a recent study by the American Red Cross and The Weather Channel found that only about half of Americans surveyed have an evacuation plan or a plan for communicating with family members if they get separated during a disaster.

Additionally, a third of the nearly 1,500 surveyed adults living in coastal communities from Maine to Texas do not know where to stay in an evacuation or do not have an emergency kit with supplies. Yet, nearly six of 10 people surveyed say they are very or somewhat concerned that they will be in harm's way because of a hurricane.

Other key findings include:

  • Local TV news remains the most popular source of emergency information (94 percent), followed closely by The Weather Channel (85 percent).
  • One in five households has a member with a health issue or disability. A quarter of those households are not confident that they have a plan to meet these medical needs in an emergency.
  • Smart phone apps are providing coastal residents with new ways to prepare for emergencies, and 14 percent have downloaded a smart phone app that could help them in emergency situations.

Hurricane Sandy has raised awareness of the need to prepare for emergencies – particularly in areas hit hardest by the storm. Coastal residents of New York and New Jersey are most likely to have taken some action to prepare for this hurricane season (49 percent).

"The Red Cross and The Weather Channel are sounding the alarm to move people from concern to action," said Richard Reed, senior vice president of disaster services at the Red Cross. "The time to prepare is now, whether it's downloading a disaster app, creating your family's evacuation plan or making sure that you have extra supplies of medication on hand."

Recommendations for action include:

  • Create an emergency preparedness kit with food and water, and other basic supplies for each family member to last at least three days. Remember to include essential medications, copies of important documents and special items for children and pets.
  • Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate. Coordinate with your child's school, your work and community emergency plans.
  • Be informed about what disasters or emergencies may occur where you live, work, play and pray, and how to respond as safely as possible. Find out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information.

More information can be found at and free checklists are available at

Summer is a good time to make sure that you're prepared for disaster to strike. If you have a question or comment, please share it here. Or, follow me on Twitter @timmcclimon and comment there.


P.S. CSR Now! is going on summer hiatus until Monday, July 22. We'll be posting some of our "best of" blogs during that time. Thanks for reading and sharing.


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