In an Emergency Preparedness Poll by the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation (2012), it appears only about 45% of Americans are prepared for an emergency with a disaster kit and plan.

In the past decade, the United States has experienced the devastation from 6 hurricanes (affecting 12 states), 443 tornadoes (adversely affecting 13 states), 3 major floods (affecting 11 states), and 4 major wild fires (affecting 7 states). These events over the past 10 years also resulted in 2,964 fatalities, in excess of $235 billion in damage, and more than 1.5 million people evacuated from their homes. The names of Katrina, Joplin, Sandy, Evansville, Ike, and Moore are forever embedded in the minds of millions of Americans. With all of that disruption, damage, and loss of lives, 55% of all Americans polled do not believe they need a disaster preparedness plan.

Part of the problem is the number of those unprepared believing it is not necessary because they expect the government/local authorities to respond to their needs in a timely manner with a call to 9-1-1:

• 32% believe help will arrive within one hour

• 30% believe help will arrive within several hours

• 19% believe help will arrive within the day

The reality to this false sense of security is in 2005 the government suggested people have a disaster preparedness plan and emergency supplies to be on their own for 72 hours. In 2008 the recommendation was 3-5 days, and in 2011 the wait for help was projected at 5 days. Following Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the recommendation is for people now to be prepared and self-sustaining for 7 days.

If you are part of the 55% who need a boost, here are things to consider in developing a plan comparable to those who are already prepared to be without essential resources for up to 7 days:

• Gather disaster supplies (food, water, medical, flashlights, radios, etc.) that can be used without electrical or gas service

• Become knowledgeable with the community’s alerts and warning systems

• Discuss with family members what to do in the first five minutes of the event for specific types of disasters which could happen in your area during an alert, a warning, an all clear, and if separated.

• Take some first-aid training to be able to help yourself and injured family members

• Develop and practice an evacuation plan to leave your home, using different routes out of the neighborhood and city

• Prepare copies of critical family documents (medical histories/medications, insurance/policies, emergency contacts, etc.) to be stored and secured away from your home, like with a trusted family member in another city

• Develop a communications plan to alert family and friends on the outside

If you are real serious about getting prepared visit the following website: www.citizencorps.gov/ready

Bruce Marxsen writes Staying Prepared columns on behalf of the Preparedness Volunteer Group of Volunteer Partners.