Washington, DC -- While it's proven that anchoring devices, reinforced garage doors and other prevention measures can save lives and reduce damage from tornadoes, more than half of those recently surveyed have done nothing to safeguard themselves and their homes. In fact, 44 percent of those questioned - all residing in tornado-prone states - didn't know that actions taken before a disaster could prevent tornado damage.
The survey was conducted by Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster prevention initiative, and polled 282 adults living in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. Of those responding, 56 percent had taken no prevention measures against tornadoes.
"This survey points out how far we still have to go to spread the message about disaster prevention and that is what FEMA is doing through Project Impact," said FEMA Director James Lee Witt. "There are many measures that can prevent terrible tornado damage and save lives. Americans need to find out from their local emergency managers what prevention measures they should be taking - and then take them."
Disaster prevention is the message of FEMA's national initiative Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities. With this initiative, FEMA is teaming with nearly 200 communities nationwide to identify risks and motivate residents and businesses to take prevention action.
"With Project Impact, we've seen that prevention works. We've found that we save two dollars in recovery costs for every dollar spent on prevention," said Witt. "And that doesn't even take into account the savings in terms of human tragedy. This study shows that a lack of awareness exists, and that lack of awareness directly translates into disaster damage in this nation."
Opinion Research Corporation International collected responses to the survey from March 2 to 5, 2000. The questions were part of a telephone study of 1,016 adults. Awareness about tornado prevention steps was highest among African Americans (61 percent) and Hispanics (59 percent) and among those with annual incomes of more than $50,000 a year (61 percent).
"On the positive side, the survey found that 17 percent of respondents had installed clips or straps to secure doors and roofs and 14 percent had built a tornado safe room in their home or business," said Witt. "These numbers show us that some people are getting the message that there are important things that can be done to prevent loss of life and property."
For homes and businesses located in tornado-prone areas, FEMA recommends:
- Building a tornado-safe room that can withstand extreme winds and flying objects and keep people safe during extreme tornadoes;
- Ensuring that homes meet building code requirements for high-wind areas;
- Installing anchoring devices such as clips and straps to secure doors and roofs;
- Properly bracing the end wall of gabled roofs to reduce lift;
- Reinforcing garage doors.
Since its inception in 1997, Project Impact has been embraced by nearly 200 communities and more than 1,100 business partners. Instead of waiting for disasters to occur, Project Impact communities take action to reduce potentially devastating disasters. For more information about Project Impact or preventing tornadoes, call (202) 646-4117.