Personal Preparedness

Going back to 9/11, the President of the United States issued Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness (PPD-8) signed on March 30, 2011, that directed the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate a comprehensive campaign across government, private and nonprofit sectors, and individuals to build and sustain national preparedness.

Despite efforts by the FEMA and other organizations to educate U.S. residents on becoming prepared, growth in specific personal preparedness behaviors, including actions taken in advance of a disaster to be better prepared to respond to and recover, has been limited.

  • In 2012, only 52% of U.S. residents surveyed by FEMA reported having supplies for a disaster, a decline from 57% who reported having such supplies in 2009. I have seen numbers that are much lower than that.

What will it take to make people invest time and yes some money to have a better level of preparedness for themselves and their families?

The CDC has just issued a report on a recent effort that they undertook with their own employees to raise the level of preparedness. They speculated that understanding people’s knowledge and beliefs regarding household disaster preparedness might make public-health messages promoting household preparedness more effective. It went on to say that knowledge influences behavior, and that attitudes and beliefs, which are correlated with knowledge, might also influence behavior.

To determine the association between knowledge and beliefs and household preparedness, CDC analyzed baseline data from Ready CDC, a personal disaster preparedness intervention piloted within the CDC workforce during 2013–2015. Compared with persons with basic preparedness knowledge, persons with advanced knowledge were:

  • More likely to have assembled an emergency kit (44 percent versus 17 percent)
  • Developed a written household disaster plan (9 percent versus 4 percent)
  • Received county emergency alert notifications (63 percent versus 41 percent).

Our training job is cut out for us!