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Natural Disasters and Terrorist Threats Top Americans' Public Safety Concerns

December 8, 2010
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Three in five Americans are most concerned about emergencies involving a natural disaster or terrorist attack, with a health pandemic closely following as a top concern among 46 percent of respondents, according to Federals Signal’s 2010 Public Safety survey. The survey was done in partnership with Safe America Foundation and Zogby International as part of an effort to uncover Americans’ chief concerns and most likely behaviors in emergencies.
Among the findings, the survey revealed that almost half of respondents (47 percent) do not have an emergency plan, while 46 percent do. Americans who live in the West and/or those living in rural areas are more likely to have family/household emergency plans in place versus those who live in the East and/or those that live in large cities. Research also discovered that Americans are most fearful of an emergency taking place in an airport (60 percent), followed closely by some form of mass transit (52 percent). About two in five respondents are most fearful of an emergency taking place at a school, a stadium or arena, a roadway or shopping mall.
 
When citing notification preferences, one in four Americans would prefer to be notified about an emergency by a telephone call (26 percent) or by television (25 percent). Another 18 percent say they would like to be notified by text message, while 15 percent would like the announcement by outdoor loud speakers. One in ten prefers to be notified by radio. These responses were similar among all age groups, with the exception of those aged 18-29, who most prefer to receive notification on television (33 percent) or by text message (29 percent).
 
Additional findings include:
  • Half of respondents say their family does not have an emergency plan, while 44% say they do.
  • More than half of Americans do not have an emergency kit available
  • More than half (54%) of Americans do not have an emergency kit available to them to deal with emergency situations, while 43% say they do have such a kit on hand. 
  • The vast majority (88%) of respondents say mobile or wireless communication systems (to connect first responders, EMTs, hospitals, fire, police) are the most important tools for public safety officers to perform their duties.
  • Half (51%) say that they know if their city or town is able to alert them in case of an emergency, while 49% say they do not know or are not sure if their town provides updated sirens, communication technologies or procedure/evacuation information.

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