Report: Public Preparedness For Disaster Increases

The nation's RQ (Readiness Quotient) -- a barometer of the public's preparedness for a weather emergency, natural disaster or terrorist attack -- inched up nearly a point from 15 months ago, according to a report released recently by the American Red Cross and the Council for Excellence in Government.

The nation's collective level of preparedness has increased to 4.14 out of a possible 10, compared to 3.31 in June 2006. The survey found that the biggest gains were in the public's level of preparedness awareness, but more work needs to be done to engage people in taking preparedness actions.

Among the key findings:

  • Sixty-five percent of respondents said they know how to find the emergency broadcasting channel on the radio (up from 43 percent in 2006) and 62 percent said that their local government had an emergency plan (up from 38 percent in 2006).
  • The majority of Americans remain unprepared. Only 4 percent have taken all of the preparedness actions recommended in the RQ and 23 percent have not taken a single action.
  • Preparedness among seniors improved substantially, from an average RQ score of 2.6 in 2006 to 4.0 in 2007, moving them out of the most unprepared category. Despite the fact that preparedness levels increased among those age 18 to 24 (2.7 in 2006 to 3.7 in 2007), this group of young adults is now among the least prepared age group.
  • Businesses and schools play a role in helping to increase America's preparedness level. People had a higher RQ if their employer had an emergency response plan (4.5 compared to 3.1); and parents were better prepared if their children's schools or daycare had emergency response plans (4.5 compared to 2.8) and provided written information about those plans (5.3 compared to 3.4).

"As the nation's partner in disaster preparedness and response, the American Red Cross is committed to helping individuals and families prepare for disasters and other emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools," said Mark W. Everson, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. "We want everyone, regardless of their age, background or geography to have the confidence and peace of mind that comes with being prepared. So we're asking that people Be Red Cross Ready by taking three simple actions: 1) get a kit, 2) make a plan and 3) be informed."

"We designed the RQ to be an easy way for individuals and communities to gauge their preparedness and to track progress over time. I am delighted to see the improvement in preparedness in the past 15 months . . . particularly in what Americans overall know regarding emergency readiness, as well as the impressive gains in preparedness by senior citizens in our country," said Patricia McGinnis, president and CEO of the Council for Excellence in Government. "But this year's RQ score has also identified preparedness gaps that we must address. Clearly, we have to move beyond raising awareness to taking action to prepare, particularly by our younger Americans."

The telephone survey was conducted during National Preparedness Month 2007, using the RQ survey questions found on the newly enhanced RQ website at The RQ survey provides a standard index for the nation as well as states, towns, and other groups. The RQ survey-tool is available for public use by individuals, families and groups to assess their actual level of preparedness. A new function of the RQ survey-tool allows individuals, as well as groups like businesses, schools and localities to collect and retrieve preparedness data specific to their group, obtain a benchmark score that they can use to address gaps, plan education and training, and track progress over time.

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