Are You Prepared for a Disaster?

July 16, 2013 ( – From terrorist attacks to catastrophic weather events to wildfires, it seems no matter where you live, there’s potential for a disaster. Are you prepared?

Just more than half (54%) of U.S. adults responding to a Harris poll say they are prepared for a long-term power outage or a disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, flood, wildland fire or terrorist attack and have  the necessary supplies, including extra food and water for three days. Forty-four percent say they are not prepared.

Surprisingly, despite all the disasters that have occurred over the past few years, this number is actually down: 58% indicated they were prepared in 2007, and 56% were prepared in 2011.

Certain areas of the country are better prepared than others. Nearly six in ten Westerners (58%) say they are prepared, as do 56% of Southerners and 55% of Easterners. Forty-four percent of Midwesterners say the same. By type of area one lives in, urban residents are least prepared: While 56% of suburban residents and 55% of rural dwellers say they are prepared, just 48% of urbanites say the same.

Americans show different levels of concern for different types of disasters, particularly depending on where they live. While nearly half of Americans say they think tornadoes (48%) or snow and/or ice storms (45%) are among the types of disasters most likely to directly impact them, the numbers vary greatly by region. Some top regional concerns are:


  • Seven in ten (70%) Easterners say snow and/or ice storms will most directly impact them, and 63% say hurricanes will;
  • In the Midwest, 87% say tornadoes will directly impact them, and 78% say snow and/or ice storms will;
  • For Southerners, two-thirds (66%) say tornadoes will directly impact them, and 57% say hurricanes will; and
  • In the West, two-thirds say earthquakes will impact them (67%), while 47% each say a drought or wildfires will.


More than half of Americans (56%) say a nuclear power plant disaster or meltdown is among the issues the federal government is currently worst equipped to handle, down from 59% saying this in 2011. More than two in five U.S. adults (43%) cite terrorism—up from 34% in 2011. Around one in five each selected earthquakes (21%), hurricanes (18%) and drought (17%) as among the disasters the federal government is worst equipped to handle.

The poll was conducted online within the United States between May 8 and 13, among 2,240 adults ages 18 and older.

Tips for preparing for emergencies can be found at, and guides are available on the Red Cross website at