Survey: How Prepared are Americans for a Disaster?

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: April 22, 2024

We recently conducted a survey of 3,000 Americans to uncover what percentage of people are prepared for a natural disaster.

The surprising results are illustrated below.

Key Findings:

  • Significant Lack of Preparedness: Approximately 31% of households surveyed do not take any proactive measures to prepare for natural disasters, indicating a substantial gap in readiness across various states.
  • State-Specific Preparedness Variability: The survey highlights regional differences in preparedness, with Idaho having the highest preparedness level at 80%, whereas only 44% of households in Washington reported taking preventive measures, despite the state’s high risk for multiple types of natural disasters.
  • Psychological Impact: Over a third (35%) of respondents experience anxiety related to extreme weather events, underscoring the emotional toll in addition to the physical risks associated with natural disasters.
  • Financial and Knowledge Barriers: Economic constraints are a primary barrier to disaster preparedness. Additionally, 13% of respondents cited a lack of information on what actions to take, with only 48% fully understanding their local natural disaster risks.
  • Emergency Sustainability Concerns: Only 22% of surveyed households can sustain themselves with current emergency supplies for a few days following an extreme weather event. A mere 3% could manage for three weeks, highlighting the inadequacy of current emergency provisions.

Implications of the Study:

  • Urgent Need for Enhanced Public Education: The findings expose a critical need for targeted educational campaigns to raise awareness about the specific risks and necessary preparations for natural disasters tailored to regional threats.
  • Integration of Disaster Preparedness into Public Policy: Local governments and community organizations must prioritize integrating disaster preparedness into their planning processes, ensuring that households are not only aware but also equipped to handle natural disasters.
  • Addressing Financial Hurdles: The study underscores the necessity of developing financial assistance programs that enable low-income households to purchase essential supplies and make necessary home modifications to mitigate disaster impacts.
  • Mental Health Support Services: Given the significant psychological impact of disaster threats, providing accessible mental health support services should be considered an integral part of disaster preparedness strategies.
  • Importance of Community-Based Approaches: There is a need for community-driven initiatives that engage local stakeholders in creating resilient infrastructures and support systems that enhance collective preparedness and response capabilities.


Online panel survey of 3,000 adults based on age, gender, and geography. Internal data sources are used to obtain population data sets. We used a two-step process to ensure representativeness through stratified sampling and post-stratification weighting. 

Respondents are carefully chosen from a geographically representative online panel of double opt-in members. This selection is further tailored to meet the precise criteria required for each unique survey. Throughout the survey, we design questions to carefully screen and authenticate respondents, guaranteeing the alignment of the survey with the ideal participants. 

To ensure the integrity of our data collection, we employ an array of data quality methods. Alongside conventional measures like digital fingerprinting, bot checks, geo-verification, and speeding detection, etc. each response undergoes a thorough review by a dedicated team member to ensure quality and contextual accuracy. Our commitment extends to open-ended responses, subjecting them to scrutiny for gibberish answers and plagiarism detection.