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FEMA Publishes Annual Preparedness Survey: Trends Show Americans Becoming Better Prepared

Release Date Release Number
HQ-20-270

WASHINGTON -- FEMA has published its disaster preparedness survey, and the trends show Americans are becoming better prepared. The annual survey assesses how the culture of disaster preparedness and resilience has changed since 2007, and the 2020 survey results suggest that the public is experiencing a wave of culture change in disaster preparedness.

“The actions that people take to prepare for disasters serve as indicators for overall disaster preparedness,” said Aaron Levy, FEMA’s Acting Director of the Individual and Community Preparedness. “The survey provides valuable information that can be used by individuals, communities and all levels of government to prepare for and become more resilient to disasters.”

The 2020 results also show that 68% of those surveyed have taken three or more basic actions to prepare, which is a 6% increase over last year’s estimate. For example:

  • 81% have gathered supplies.
  • 65% have sought preparedness information.
  • 48% have created emergency plans.

The survey also assesses financial preparedness and suggests 68% of adults have set aside some money for an emergency. Of respondents, 77% reported having homeowners or renters insurance policies, while 22% had flood insurance.

Specifically, the public has continued building a strong intention to prepare for disasters, yet there remains a critical need to turn it into action, which has only increased by 2% since 2013.  

More than 5,000 adults were surveyed in both English and Spanish. The survey is a nationally representative sample that also includes hazard-specific samples for tornado, flood, hurricane, wildfire, earthquake and urban events. The survey tracks progress in personal disaster preparedness through examination of the American public's preparedness actions, attitudes, perceptions and motivations.

Based on these results, FEMA and its partners will continue connecting individuals, organizations and communities with messaging, research and tools to build and sustain capabilities to prepare for any disaster or emergency.

The survey is the only disaster preparedness survey administered by the federal government.

FEMA hosted a webinar on Sept. 10, to present national level findings and will hosting a webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 23, to report hazard-specific findings.

For more information on preparedness research, please visit: https://www.ready.gov/preparedness-research.

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Last updated September 21, 2020