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NHS Data Digest: Flood Safety

March 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

68% of adults have pursued 3 of 6 basic preparedness actions. 68% have set aside money for an emergency.

Key Messages: Flood Safety

 78% of people report having homeowners and renters insurance policies. Graphic shows 78% by shading of 7.8 of 10 people icons.
 But only 21% of people living in flood-prone areas report having flood insurance. Graphic shows 21% by shading of 2.1 of 10 people icons.


 Map of US shows flood risk based on FEMA National Risk Index. All states are susceptible.

Map 1: FEMA National Risk Index: Flood (combined coastal and riverine flood risk by county)

Flood-Prone Population 2019 Flood-Prone Population 2020
Holding homeowners/renters insurance policies 74% 78%
Holding flood insurance policies 25% 21%

Table 1: Financial Resiliency.

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents; their responses informed this key message.

  • Question: Do you have homeowners or renters insurance for your residence?
  • Question: Do you have a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program or from a private insurance company?
 3% in flood-prone areas have read/seen/heard info for protecting homes. 2% have read/seen/heard info for insurance. Bottom Half: 3% in flood-prone areas have read/seen/hear how to protect their home compared to 20% of respondents in national sample

 Image shows 3% and 2% of people living in flood-prone areas have read/seen/heard info about protecting homes and insurance.
People living in flood-prone areas who said they’d received information about preparedness reported receiving information on the following topics: Flood-Prone Population 2019 Flood-Prone Population 2020
How to have enough food or water 22% 35%
How to prepare and make an emergency plan 25% 25%
How to find a safe place for shelter inside 12% 9%
How to evacuate 16% 2%
What to do to prepare for a specific type of hazard 18% 23%
How to protect my home 20% 3%
What important documents to collect and safeguard 10% 2%
How to get insurance 8% 2%

Table 2: Awareness Information for people living in flood-prone areas. Of the 502 respondents living in flood-prone areas, 209 indicated that they received information about preparedness. Results above show the types of information that these 209 individuals read, saw, or heard.

The following question was asked of NHS respondents; their responses informed this key message.

  • Question: In the past six months, have you read, seen, or heard any information about how to get better prepared for a flood?
  • Question: What was it that you read, saw, or heard about how to get better prepared for a flood? By disaster, we mean events that could threaten lives, disrupt public or emergency services like water and power, or damage property.
 47% of those in flood-prone areas are condiment that they can prepare and believe that preparedness will make a difference.
 How can we increase the level of confidence people have in knowing how to prepare for and what to during a disaster.
 Determine your best protection based on flood type: evacuate if told to, move to higher ground, or stay where you are.

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents; their responses informed this key message.

  • Question: How confident are you that you can take the steps to prepare for a disaster?
  • 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 disaster? Would it help?

Data Tables and Charts

Preparedness Actions

Preparedness Action changes from 2019 to 2020.

Chart 1: Taking Action to Prepare for a Flood

Six Basic Preparedness Actions Flood-Prone Population 2019 Flood-Prone Population 2020
Gathered Supplies for 3+ Days 79% 79%
Talked with Others 44% 43%
Attended Local Meeting 31% 27%
Sought Information 62% 63%
Participated in an Emergency Drill 48% 53%
Made an Emergency Plan 43% 39%

Table 3: Preparedness Actions for U.S. Flood-Prone Populations.

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents; their responses informed the data points in Chart 1 and Table 3.

  • 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?
  • Question: 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?
  • Question: 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?
  • Question: How recently have you sought information about preparedness? Has it been within the past year, more than a year ago, or never?
  • 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?
  • 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?
Additional preparedness actions addressed by the survey Flood-Prone Population 2019 Flood-Prone Population 2020
Emergency supplies already packed that can be grabbed easily in a quick evacuation 43% 33%
Documents stored in a fireproof/waterproof location or stored electronically 69% 73%
Public transportation would be needed in case of evacuation during disaster 25% 19%
Knows how to get real-time alerts/warnings for disasters 79% 77%

Table 4: Additional Preparedness Actions.

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 4.

  • Question: Do you have emergency supplies already packed that you can grab easily in case you have to evacuate your home quickly?
  • Question: Do you have copies of critical documents, such as identification, insurance, and banking information, stored in a fireproof/waterproof location or stored electronically?
  • 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?
  • Question: Do you know how you will get real-time alerts and warnings for disasters in your community?

Preparedness Influencers

 Changes from 2019 to 2020 in Key Influencer to Flood Preparedness: awareness of information 38%, 41%; experience with disasters 45%, 33%; preparedness efficacy 40%, 47%; risk perception 98%, 95%..

Chart 2: Adults Reporting Preparedness Influencers in the Flood-Prone Population.

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents, their responses informed the data points in Chart 2.

  • Question: 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.
  • Question: Have you or your family ever experienced the impacts of a disaster?
  • 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 disaster?
  • Question: How confident are you that you can take the steps to prepare for a disaster?
  • 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

Respondents in the 2020 NHS are moving away from getting their information (read, saw or heard) “TV, TV news, weather channels” (51 percent in 2019 and 32 percent in 2020) to “social media” (5 percent in 2019 and 17 percent in 2020).

How did you get the information that you read, saw, or heard about how to get better prepared for the specified hazard? Flood-Prone Population 2019 Flood-Prone Population 2020
From TV, TV news, weather channels 51% 32%
From internet 22% 27%
From newspaper 10% 12%
From conversations with others 3% 2%
From brochure/pamphlet/flyers 11% 7%
Information provided by employer/at work 5% 8%
From PSA or notice from local government/community 4% 3%
From TV/radio commercial 7% 4%
From utility company or other business 1% 1%
From an event or training on disaster preparedness 2% 1%
From social media 5% 17%

Table 5: Awareness – Sources.

The following question was asked of NHS respondents; their responses informed the data points in Chart 3.

  • Question: In the past six months, have you read, seen, or heard any information about how to get better prepared for a disaster?
  • Question: What was it that you read, saw, or heard about how to get better prepared for a disaster?
  • Question: How did you get the information that you read, saw, or heard about getting better prepared for a disaster.

Stages of Change

 Stages of Change for Flood (2019 vs. 2020): Precontemplation 10%, 13%; contemplation 17%, 12%; preparation 21%, 28%; action 16%, 21%; maintenance 36%, 25%

Chart 3: Perceived Preparedness for Individuals Who Live in Flood-Prone Areas.

The following questions were asked of NHS respondents; their responses informed the data points in Chart 3.

  • Question: Thinking about preparing yourself for a disaster, such as developing and discussing an action plan with your family, learning about how to leave your community or where to shelter, and setting 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 degree of preparedness?
  • Question: Which of the following best represents your preparedness?
  • Financial Resilience

    Fewer individuals in flood-prone are saving money for an emergency compared to last year (70 percent in 2019 and 67 percent in 2020). How can we encourage individuals in flood-prone areas to save money for an emergency?

    Most likely actions to take if flooding happened in the community Flood-Prone Population 2019 Flood-Prone Population 2020
    Following a planned route to evacuate by car or other transportation 41% 40%
    Going to the highest floor in a building 37% 35%
    Climbing to a high place outside 19% 11%
    Other 2% 13%

    Table 6: Flood-Prone Area Specific Question 1.

    The following question was asked of NHS respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 6.

    • Question: Which of the following actions are you most likely to take in the event there was flooding in your community?
    Believes that timely information will be received from local authorities in the event of a flood, on what to do Flood-Prone Population 2019 Flood-Prone Population 2020
    Yes 82% 83%

    Table 7: Flood-Prone Area Specific Question 2.

    The following question was asked of NHS respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 7.

    • Question: 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?
    Most likely flooding that would happen in the community Flood-Prone Population 2019 Flood-Prone Population 2020
    Coastal Surge: This is ocean water being pushed on shore during a storm. 10% 2%
    Riverine: This is rivers overflowing their banks. 15% 12%
    Urban: This is flooding from nearby water or heavy rains that overflow drainage systems and flood the streets. 36% 32%
    Flash Flood: This is a sudden flood with a high volume of water going over dry land and roads. 37% 45%
    Other 2% 8%

    Table 8: Flood-Prone Area Specific Question 3.

    The following question was asked of NHS respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 8.

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

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