2019 National Household Survey
Since 2007, FEMA has conducted the National Household Survey (NHS) to assess the development of a culture of personal disaster preparedness and resilience in the American public. Specifically, the NHS measures individual preparedness attitudes and behaviors and investigates what factors influence individuals to begin preparing for a future hazard.
The NHS includes 5,000 respondents including both a large representative national level sample and a series of smaller hazard-specific samples.
- 62% of adults have pursued three or more of the six basic preparedness actions
- 69% of adults have set aside some money for an emergency
- $700 is the most amount of money that about half of all adults have set aside for an emergency
Hurricane Preparedness Key Messages
Emergency Plans in Hurricane Areas
About half the population living in hurricane prone areas do not have an evacuation plan (50%) or a safe place plan (47%). Also, less than 14% received information about how to create those plans.
|Emergency Plan Includes:||Hurricane-Prone Areas|
|A process for connecting with family members||86%|
|Information on how to evacuate||81%|
|Information on where to shelter or find a safe place||85%|
|Checking on neighbors||75%|
Emergency plans are an essential element to preparedness. Knowing your evacuation zone is especially important during the COVID pandemic.
- Follow instructions from local emergency managers who work closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies and partners. They will provide the latest recommendations and appropriate safety measures based on the threat to your community.
- Create an emergency plan so that you and your family know what to do, where to go, and what you will need to take with you to safely weather the storm. Keep in mind that your best protection from the effects of a hurricane may differ from your best protection from diseases, such as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
- Note that your regular shelter may not be open this year. Check with local authorities for the latest information about public shelters.
- If you must evacuate to a public shelter, try to bring items that can help protect you and others in the shelter from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, cleaning materials, and two cloth face coverings per person. Cloth face coverings should not be worn by children under 2 years old, those who have trouble breathing, and those who are unable to remove them on their own. Prepare these items early!
- Remember that not everyone can afford to respond by stocking up on necessities. For those who can afford it, making essential purchases and slowly building up supplies in advance will allow for longer time periods between shopping trips. This helps to protect those who are unable to procure essentials in advance of the pandemic and must shop more frequently. In addition, consider avoiding WIC-approved products so that those who rely on these products can access them.
Due to limited space as a result of COVID-19, public evacuation shelters may not be the safest choice for you and your family. If you don’t live in a mandatory evacuation zone and it’s safe to do so, plan to shelter in place in your home. If you cannot shelter at home, make plans to shelter with friends or family where you will be safer and more comfortable.
Insurance in Hurricane Areas
While nearly 100% of those living in hurricane prone areas acknowledged they could be impacted by flooding, only 34% have flood insurance policies and fewer than 1% have recently read, seen or heard information on how to get insurance.
Since flooding often occurs as a result of hurricane, having a flood insurance policy will impact how fast you can recover.
Insurance is an important way to protect homes and messaging that communicates the value of insurance would provide significant benefit to both homeowners and renters.
Awareness and Efficacy
Although nearly 100% of respondents acknowledge that the occurrence of at least one disaster type could impact where they live, only 56% believe that preparing can help in a disaster and are confident in their abilities to prepare.
|Sources of Preparedness Information||Estimate|
|Web and Social Media||25%|
|Official Notice (Government, Employer, Utility Company, Community Organization)||13%|
|Discuss with others (including training and events)||7%|
What are the key influencers to hazard preparedness?
The NHS gathers information on four factors that influence a person’s decision to begin preparing for a future hazard. The following show the change from the 2018 findings to 2019 findings.
What methods may have contributed to awareness or action?
|What was it that you read, saw, or heard about how to get better prepared for a hurricane?||Estimate|
|How to have enough food or water||48%|
|How to prepare and make an emergency plan||43%|
|How to find a safe place for shelter inside||13%|
|How to evacuate||14%|
|What to do to prepare for a specific type of hazard||14%|
|How to protect my home||16%|
|What important documents to collect and safeguard||3%|
|How to get insurance||1%|
|What motivated you to take these steps to become better prepared for a hurricane?||Estimate|
|It is likely that a disaster will occur in my community||23%|
|I feel like it is my responsibility to take care of my family in a disaster||17%|
|I want to protect myself in a disaster||24%|
|My job, school, friend, community leader encouraged me to take steps to become better prepared||2%|
|It just seems like something I should do||6%|
|Disasters I have experienced motivated me to get better prepared||26%|
|Disasters in other places motivated me to take steps to become better prepared||3%|
How have preparedness actions among residents in hurricane-prone areas changed in the past year?
- Overall, in comparison to the 2018 data, estimates from the 2019 NHS indicate that those who live in hurricane-prone areas have shown an increase in four of the six basic preparedness actions.
- 98% of respondents have taken 1 or more of the 6 basic preparedness actions and 76% have taken 3 or more of these actions.
- A great way to help members of your community while practicing social distancing is to organize virtual meetings for communities, such as virtual homeowners association or townhall meetings. By holding virtual meetings, you can help continue the upward trend (38% in 2019 compared to 28% in 2018) of individuals living in hurricane-prone areas who attend a local meeting or training about preparedness.
- Of those living in hurricane-prone areas:
- 80% actively sought information on preparedness (a 14-percentage point increase from 2018);
- 56% have emergency supplies that were already packed and easily accessible in case they need to quickly evacuate;
- 88% know how to get real-time alerts and warnings for disasters;
- 78% have documents stored in a fireproof or waterproof location or stored electronically; and
- 69% have set money aside for an emergency.
Stages of Change
How have disaster preparedness behaviors changed since last year for people living in hurricane-prone areas?
- 2019 NHS data shows that the number of individuals at either end of the Stages of Change spectrum have decreased slightly. This means that the number of people moving out of the pre-contemplation stage to more-prepared stages is increasing, but there are also some moving from the maintenance stages to less prepared stages. In addition, those who intend to prepare soon or who have started preparing has increased. To this end, we should focus on nudging those folks who intend to prepare within the next year (27%) to start taking preparedness actions. Increased messaging and awareness may provide the individuals in the “middle three” stages with the motivation and support to turn their intent into action and sustained maintenance of preparedness behavior.
- We encourage you to provide materials to your community members by posting, hanging, or mailing information or using social media that includes guidance on how to prepare for hurricanes and flooding in the COVID-19 environments These methods can be used to reach community members while the country is practicing COVID-19 mitigation strategies such as social distancing and wearing cloth face coverings while in public.
- 2019 National Household Survey: https://go.usa.gov/xd4ax
- National Household Survey OpenFEMA (2017-2018 raw data): https://go.usa.gov/xpmBU
- FEMA Preparedness Research: https://www.ready.gov/preparedness-research
- Hurricane Preparedness Tips: https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes
- Flood Preparedness Tips: https://www.ready.gov/floods
- Tools and community outreach materials that communicate the value of flood insurance: https://agents.floodsmart.gov/hurricane-season-in-your-community