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FEMA Data Digest: Hurricane Safety

May 2021

To learn more about research at FEMA, please visit: https://www.ready.gov/preparedness-research.

Have questions about this data? Contact FEMA at FEMA-Prepare@fema.dhs.gov

National Household Survey (NHS) Information

2020 NHS Key Findings

Key Messages: Hurricane Safety

88% of people living in a hurricane-prone area acknowledged that a hurricane could impact where they live.  Know your risk! Are you one of the 12% of people who don’t know they are at risk for a hurricane

Figure 1. U.S. Disaster Map for Hurricanes (Data obtained from FEMA and USGS)

The following question was asked of NHS respondents:

  • Thinking about the area you live in, how likely or unlikely would it be for a hurricane to happen?

People who live near the Atlantic or Pacific coastlines are susceptible to hurricanes.

Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land. The Atlantic and Central Pacific hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.

10% fewer people in hurricane-prone areas are prepared compared to last year.  From 2019 to 2020, 10% fewer people in hurricane-prone areas are prepared

Figure 2. Preparedness of Individuals Living in Hurricane-Prone Areas from 2019 to 2020

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents:

  • Thinking about preparing yourself for a hurricane, have you developed and discussed an action plan with your family that includes information about how to leave your community or where to shelter, and set aside supplies such as food, water, and other essentials that allow you to be self-sufficient for at least three days?
  • Which of the following best represents your preparedness?
    • I am NOT prepared, and I do not intend to prepare in the next year
    • I am NOT prepared, but I intend to start preparing in the next year
    • I am NOT prepared, but I intend to get prepared in the next six months
    • I have been prepared for the last year
    • I have been prepared for MORE than a year and I continue preparing
    • Don’t know
    • Prefer not to answer
 Preparedness is personal. Personal motivations are most influential. How can we use these motivators to encourage folks to prepare? 30% are motivated by protecting self and family; 23% are motivated by personal risk or experience; 1% are motivated by news from other places or pressure form others

Figure 3. What Motivated People to Prepare

The following question was asked of NHS respondents:

  • What motivated you to take these steps to become better prepared? Please tell me the main reason.

Data Tables

Preparedness Actions

Table 1: 2019 and 2020 NHS Estimates of People in Hurricane-Prone Areas Taking Basic Preparedness Actions for a Hazard in General

Percentage of people in hurricane-prone areas taking the six basic preparedness actions 2019 2020
Gather supplies to last 3 or more days 80%82%
Talk to others on getting prepared 63%63%
Attend a local meeting/training 38%34%
Seek information on preparedness 80%76%
Participate in an emergency drill 52%57%
Make an emergency plan 61%67%

Table 2: 2019 and 2020 NHS Estimates of People in Hurricane-Prone Areas Taking Multiple Basic Preparedness Actions

Percentages of people in hurricane-prone areas taking 1 or more or 3 or more of the six basic preparedness actions Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
Taking 3 or more of the 6 basic preparedness actions 76%81%
Taking 1 or more of the 6 basic preparedness actions 98%98%

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents:

  • Emergency Supplies Question: Do you have enough supplies set aside in your home to get you through three days or more without power or running water and without transportation?
  • Talk to Others About Getting Prepared Question: Please indicate how recently you, personally, have taken any of the following actions to prepare for a possible disaster. How recently have you talked with others in your community about getting prepared for a disaster? Has it been within the past year, more than a year ago, or never?
  • Attend a Local Meeting Question: Please indicate how recently you, personally, have taken any of the following actions to prepare for a possible disaster. How recently have you attended a meeting or training on preparedness about your local disasters? Has it been within the past year, more than a year ago, or never?
  • Seek Information on Preparedness Question: Please indicate how recently you, personally, have taken any of the following actions to prepare for a possible disaster. How recently have you sought information about preparedness? Has it been within the past year, more than a year ago, or never?
  • Participate in an Emergency Drill Question: In the past year, have you practiced what to do in a disaster by participating in a disaster preparedness exercise or drill at: Home? Work? School? Another community location?
  • Emergency Plan Question: Has your household developed and discussed an emergency plan that includes instructions for household members about where to go and what to do in the event of a local disaster?

Table 3: 2019 and 2020 NHS Estimates for Additional Preparedness Actions

Percentage of people in hurricane-prone areas taking additional preparedness actions Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
Emergency supplies already packed that can be grabbed easily in a quick evacuation 56%50%
Documents stored in a fireproof/waterproof location or stored electronically 77%69%
Public transportation would be needed in case of evacuation during disaster 18%11%
Knows how to get real-time alerts/warnings for disasters 88%88%

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents:

  • Emergency Supplies in a Quick Evacuation Question: Do you have emergency supplies already packed that you can grab easily in case you have to evacuate your home quickly?
  • Document Storage Question: Do you have copies of critical documents, such as identification, insurance, and banking information, stored in a fireproof/waterproof location or stored electronically?
  • Public Transportation Question: In the event of a disaster that required you to leave your area, would you need to rely on public transportation or the local authorities for transportation in order to leave?
  • Real-Time Alert and Warning Question: Do you know how you will get real-time alerts and warnings for disasters in your community?

Table 4: 2019 and 2020 NHS Estimates of Households with Emergency Plans

Percentage of people in hurricane-prone areas whose households have an emergency plan 2019 2020
Household has developed and discussed an emergency plan 62%67%

The following question was asked of NHS respondents:

  • Has your household developed and discussed an emergency plan that includes instructions for household members about where to go and what to do in the event of a local disaster?

Table 5: 2019 and 2020 NHS Estimates for Features of Emergency Plan

Percentage of people in hurricane-prone areas with emergency plans that include information about family communications plans, evacuation, sheltering, and checking with neighbors Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
Emergency plan includes process for connecting with family members 56%49%
Emergency plan includes information on how to evacuate 52%45%
Emergency plan includes information on where to shelter or find a safe place 55%50%
Emergency plan includes checking on neighbors 47%41%

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents:

  • Has your household developed and discussed an emergency plan that includes instructions for household members about where to go and what to do in the event of a local disaster?
  • Does your plan include a process for your household members to get in touch with each other if you are not together when the disaster happens?
  • Does your plan include information about how to leave your community for an evacuation?
  • Does your plan include information about where to shelter or a safe place you can stay in the event of a disaster?
  • Does your plan include checking on your neighbors (those in your neighborhood or apartment building) to make sure they are okay in the event of a disaster?

Preparedness Influencers

Table 6: Percentage of Adults Reporting Preparedness Influencers in the Hurricane-Prone Population

Preparedness Influencers Description of Preparedness Influencers Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
Awareness of Information Have read, seen, or heard information in the past six months about how to get better prepared for a hurricane 59%60%
Experience with Disasters Have personal or familial experience with the impacts of a hurricane 88%87%
Preparedness Efficacy Believe that preparing can help in a hurricane AND are confident in their abilities to prepare 71%75%
Risk Perception Acknowledge that a hurricane could impact where they live 80%88%

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents:

  • Awareness of Information Question: In the past six months, have you read, seen, or heard any information about how to get better prepared for a hurricane?
  • Experience with Disasters Question: Have you or your family ever experienced a hurricane?
  • Preparedness Efficacy Question: How much would taking steps to prepare, such as creating a household emergency plan, developing an evacuation and shelter plan, signing up for alerts and warning systems, or stocking up on supplies help you get through a hurricane in your area? Would it help?
  • Risk Perception Question: All areas of the country are subject to different types of disasters. Will you please name the types of disasters that would have the biggest impact where you live?

Awareness

Table 7: Awareness

In the past six months, have you read, seen, or heard any information about how to get better prepared for a hurricane? Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
Percentage of respondents answering “yes”59%60%

Table 8: Awareness Type and Sources of Information

What was it that you read, saw, or heard about how to get better prepared for a hurricane? Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
How to have enough food or water 25%13%
How to prepare and make an emergency plan 22%9%
How to find a safe place for shelter inside 7%4%
How to evacuate 7%4%
What to do to prepare for a specific type of hazard 9%11%
How to protect my home 10%3%
What important documents to collect and safeguard 3%1%
How to get insurance 1%0.1%

Table 9: Hurricane Awareness

How did you get the information that you read, saw, or heard about how to get better prepared for a hurricane? Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
From TV, TV news, weather channels 36%23%
From internet 10%11%
From newspaper 8%4%
From conversations with others 2%1%
From brochure/pamphlet/flyers 4%3%
Information provided by employer/at work 3%3%
From PSA or notice from local government/community 3%3%
From TV/radio commercial 7%4%
From utility company or other business 1%1%
From an event or training on disaster preparedness 1%0.4%
From social media 4%3%

Table 10: Awareness-Related Disaster Preparation

Percentage of people in hurricane-prone areas who took preparedness actions after receiving information on how to prepare Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
Hurricane 44%31%

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents:

  • In the past six months, have you read, seen, or heard any information about how to get better prepared for a disaster? By disaster, I mean events that could threaten lives, disrupt public or emergency services like water and power, or damage property.
  • After receiving the information about how to get better prepared, did you take any steps to prepare for a disaster?

Table 11: Motivation for Disaster Preparation

What motivated you to take these steps to become better prepared? Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
It is likely that a disaster will occur in my community23%9%
I feel like it is my responsibility to take care of my family in a disaster17%18%
I want to protect myself in a disaster24%12%
My job, school, friend, community leader encouraged me to take steps to become better prepared2%0.2%
It just seems like something I should do6%1%
Disasters I have experienced motivated me to get better prepared26%14%
Disasters in other places motivated me to take steps to become better prepared3%1%

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents:

  • In the past six months, have you read, seen, or heard any information about how to get better prepared for a hurricane?
  • What was it that you read, saw, or heard about how to get better prepared for a hurricane?
  • How did you get the information that you read, saw, or heard about how to get better prepared for a hurricane?
  • After receiving the information about how to get better prepared, did you take any steps to prepare for a disaster?
  • What motivated you to take these steps to become better prepared?

Stages of Change

Table 12: Stages of Change Chart for the Perceived Preparedness for Hurricanes for Individuals Who Live in Hurricane-Prone Areas

Stage Description Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
Precontemplation I am NOT prepared, and I do not intend to prepare in the next year 3%3%
Contemplation I am NOT prepared, but I intend to start preparing in the next year 3%7%
Preparation I am NOT prepared, but I intend to get prepared in the next six months 17%21%
Action I have been prepared for the last year 22%13%
Maintenance I have been prepared for MORE than a year, and I continue preparing 55%55%

The following question was asked of NHS respondents:

  • Thinking about preparing yourself for a hurricane, have you developed and discussed an action plan with your family that includes information about how to leave your community or where to shelter, and set aside supplies such as, food, water, and other essentials that allow you to be self-sufficient for at least three days? Which of the following best represent your preparedness?
    • I am NOT prepared, and I do not intend to prepare in the next year
    • I am NOT prepared, but I intend to start preparing in the next year
    • I am NOT prepared, but I intend to get prepared in the next six months
    • I have been prepared for the last year
    • I have been prepared for MORE than a year and I continue preparing
    • Don’t know
    • Prefer not to answer

Other Protective Actions

Table 13: Hurricane-Specific Oversample Question for Flooding

Perceptions of the type of flooding most likely to happen in the community as a result of a hurricane Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2019
Coastal Surge27%29%
Riverine flooding12%7%
Urban flooding31%26%
Flash flooding28%24%
Other type of flooding3%14%

The following question was asked of NHS respondents:

  • When you think about possible flooding, what is the MOST likely type of flooding you think would happen in your community?

Table 14: Hurricane- and Flood-Related Protective Actions

Most likely actions to take if flooding happened in the community as a result of a hurricane Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
Following a planned route to evacuate by car or other transportation62%63%
Going to the highest floor in a building21%16%
Climbing to a high place outside12%7%
Other type of action5%14%

The following question was asked of NHS respondents:

  • Which of the following actions are you most likely to take in the event there was flooding in your community?

Table 15: Hurricane- and Flood-Related Preparedness Actions

Other hurricane-related questions Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
In the event of a flood, do you believe you will receive timely information from local authorities that gives you specific instructions on what to do based on your community?87%89%
Does your emergency plan include the location of a safe and effective shelter in case of a high wind event?75%74%

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents:

  • In the event of a flood, do you believe you will receive timely information from local authorities that gives you specific instructions on what to do based on your community?
  • Does your emergency plan include the location of a safe and effective shelter in case of a high wind event?


Additional Insights

Table 16: Financial Preparedness

Question Hurricane-Prone Population 2019 Hurricane-Prone Population 2020
Saving money for an emergency in specific regions of the country69%71%
Holding homeowners/renters insurance policies in specific regions of the country73%77%
Holding flood insurance policies in specific regions of the country34%30%

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents:

  • Do you have money set aside for an emergency?
  • Do you have homeowners or renters insurance for your residence?
  • Do you have a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program or from a private insurance company?


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