NEW YORK — Americans have had their share of adversities, but are they prepared for them? Quite a number are not. Just over half (54 percent) of U.S. adults say they are prepared for a long term power outage or a disaster, while 44 percent are not prepared. Despite all the disasters that have occurred over the past few years, this number is actually down; 58 percent said they were prepared in 2007 and 56 percent said they were prepared in 2011.

These are some of the results of a Harris Poll survey of 2,240 adults conducted online by Harris Interactive.

Certain areas of the country are better prepared than others. Almost six in ten Westerners (58 percent) say they are prepared, as do 56 percent of Southerners and 55 percent of Easterners, but just 44 percent of Midwesterners say the same. Looking at this by type of area one lives in, urban residents are least prepared: while 56 percent of suburban residents and 55 percent of rural dwellers say they are prepared, just 48 percent of urban residents say the same.

Americans show different levels of concern for different types of disasters, particularly depending on where they live. While almost half of Americans say they think tornados (48 percent) or snow and/or ice storms (45 percent) are among the types of disasters most likely to directly impact them, the numbers vary greatly by region. Some top regional concerns are:

• Seven in ten Easterners (70 percent) say snow and/or ice storms will most directly impact them, and 63 percent say hurricanes will;

• In the Midwest, 87 percent say tornados will directly impact them and 78 percent say snow and/or ice storms will;

• For Southerners, two-thirds (66 percent) say tornados will directly impact them and 57 percent say hurricanes will; and

• In the West, two-thirds say earthquakes will impact them (67 percent) while 47 percent each say a drought or wildfires will.

While the debate may continue as to why some types of disasters seem to be getting deadlier and occurring more frequently, the bottom line is they are. With the entire country in danger of some sort of disaster, there appears to be a need for more to be done to drive Americans to be better prepared, says Harris. That drive may need to come from all angles, including government and private organizations.

Publication date: 7/15/2013

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