2020 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.
- 68% of adults have pursued three or more of the six basic preparedness actions
- 68% of adults have set aside some money for an emergency
Key Takeaways from the 2020 NHS on the Culture of Preparedness
The data indicates there is a relationship between awareness messaging and behavior. Several key takeaways emerge from the data analysis and that relate to messaging and behavior.
Measuring Preparedness Behavior Change in America – The Stages of Change
FEMA uses the Stages of Change (SoC) model and other social science models to guide evidence-based program and policy decisions to maximize impacts. The SoC model measures an individual’s attitude and behavior regarding preparedness based on the principle that the process of changing an individual’s behavior occurs progressively across five stages. Behavior changes in people can take time, which is why we track the SoC for the Nation over multiple years. In this way, noticeable changes happening at the national level can be easily viewed.
What the data indicates:
- The percentage of the adult population that have no intent to prepare (stage 1) has decreased substantially since 2013 (21% in 2013 to 9% in 2020).
- The percentage of the adult population that is not prepared but understands the importance of preparing and intends to do so within the next year (stages 2 and 3) has increased by 12 percentage points since 2013 (28% in 2013 to 40% in 2020) supporting the notion that there is an increased social awareness of the importance of preparing.
The percentage of the population that perceives themselves as prepared (stages 4 and 5) increased only slightly from 2013 (49% in 2013 to 51% in 2020), implying that the rate at which the adult population becomes prepared or maintains preparedness has stalled over the years, despite any year to year (e.g., 2020 versus 2019) fluctuations. This suggests a critical need to encourage, guide, and assist individuals and communities progress from intent-to-prepare to engagement in preparedness action and activities.
The NHS gathers information on four key influencers of a person’s decision to begin preparing for a future hazard.
- Overall, the estimated number of preparedness actions taken has increased from 2019.
- 68% of NHS respondents have taken 3 or more of the 6 basic preparedness actions; an increase of 6% from 2019.
- For the second year in a row, the percentage of people reporting four of the six basic actions increased.
- The number of people who indicated that they talked to others about getting prepared increased from 45% to 48%.
- The number of people who indicated they participated in an emergency drill increased from 49% to 56%.
- NHS data shows that, when individuals indicate that they’ve taken one preparedness action, we can expect that they will take additional preparedness actions.
- NHS data shows that preparedness actions can vary by stage of preparedness, hazard areas, and even demographics. As such, customizing preparedness messaging based on these factors will likely result in more effective messaging.
- From 2019 to 2020, a slight decrease was observed in the proportion of individuals who had homeowners or renters insurance (3% decrease to 77% in 2020) and flood insurance (1% decrease to 22% in 2020).
- Overall, the number of individuals that reported having set aside some money for an emergency remained largely unchanged from 2019 (from 69% to 68% in 2020). Still, 1 in 3 people do not have any money saved for an emergency.
Upcoming National Household Survey Webinars
To learn more about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 2020 National Household Survey (NHS), register for both webinars using the links below!
- Date: Thursday, September 10, 2020
- Time: 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST)
- Date: Wednesday, September 23, 2020
- Time: 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST)
- 2020 National Household Survey Summary: 2020 National Household Survey
- National Household Survey OpenFEMA (raw data): https://www.fema.gov/about/openfema/data-sets/national-household-survey
- FEMA Preparedness Research: https://www.ready.gov/preparedness-research