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Many Americans Not Prepared for Disasters: Poll

FRIDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- A new national survey shows that Americans have not learned their lessons from recent disasters.

The Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation poll revealed that 44 percent of U.S. adults don't have first-aid kits and 48 percent lack emergency supplies for use in the event of catastrophes. The researchers said that people have a responsibility to boost their emergency preparedness, to make difficult or life-threatening situations safer.

The findings suggested that Americans have a false sense of security. Although the researchers found that more than 53 percent of Americans do not have a three-day supply of nonperishable food and water in their home, those surveyed believe they can survive in their homes for an average of 16 days in the event of a disaster.

The poll also revealed that 55 percent of Americans think they can rely on local authorities to come to their rescue when disaster strikes.

Parents, in particular, are not ready for a disaster, the investigators found. Although 80 percent of the parents polled said they were well prepared for such an event, 52 percent have not designated a family meeting place where they can find each other if they are separated during an emergency.

Moreover, the study revealed that 42 percent of Americans do not know the phone numbers of all of their immediate family members.

The researchers pointed out that disaster could strike while people are at work, yet 21 percent of working Americans don't know if their workplace has an emergency preparedness plan, the poll showed.

Meanwhile, only 18 percent of those surveyed reported receiving information on health care preparedness from the media. Although keeping a list of current medications on hand is key, only 63 percent of adults have actually made a list of the drugs they are taking. Crucial health insurance documents should also be copied in case of a disaster, but 52 percent of Americans have not taken this precaution.

More information

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency provides more information on emergency preparedness.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Adelphi University, news release, July 16, 2012

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