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Research: Georgians try to prepare for disaster

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POSTED: August 10, 2012 12:00 p.m.

The next time a tornado touches down or a severe winter storm sweeps across the state, Georgians are more likely to have the tools and resources they need to survive the potential disaster.

That's according to the findings of a new statewide survey of Georgia residents that reveals increased preparedness rates among key demographics including Hispanics, African-Americans, males, single residents and households with children.

Commissioned by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security’s Ready Georgia campaign, the annual survey helps to gauge public preparedness levels.

One of the most significant findings of the 2012 research is that nearly three-fourths of Georgians now report being somewhat or fully prepared for a large-scale disaster, with a ready kit of emergency supplies and a communications plan in place. That is a 14-percent increase since the campaign began in 2008. The news is even better among residents who are aware of Ready Georgia, with 93 percent of that group reporting that they are at least somewhat prepared for disasters.

“The purpose for creating the Ready Georgia campaign almost five years ago was to get more Georgians prepared for emergencies. This research shows that we are steadily accomplishing our goal,” GEMA/Homeland Security Director Charley English said. “It’s encouraging to see that more residents are taking responsibility for preparedness because it indicates that more people will be safe in the event of a disaster.”

In other positive trends, Hispanics are more prepared than the rest of the state, with a majority having flashlights, manual can openers and first-aid kits on hand.

The research also reveals that there still are many Georgia residents who are unprepared. Only 38 percent of survey respondents believe they need to be prepared to survive for the recommended 72 hours following a large-scale emergency. In addition, only 40 percent of parents polled in the survey were aware of the protocol for any emergency at their children’s school.

“We are encouraged by the results but recognize that there is plenty of room for improvement,” English said. “We hope that more residents will embrace the Ready Georgia message and take action to serve as their own first responders.”

This year the survey also gauged preparedness levels for families with a member who has access and/or functional needs. Nearly 25 percent of respondents identified having a family member with a disability or decreased mobility, but only slightly more than half reported that they have emergency resources available for that person. This segment of the population has unique needs and challenges during emergency situations, making it even more important for them to prepare. That is why GEMA and the Ready Georgia campaign have added new resources for individuals with functional needs to www.ready.ga.gov. The site now offers emergency preparedness videos in American sign language, informational documents in Braille, and all audio/visual materials on the site are available as written transcripts. The campaign has also added large-print versions of its promotional fliers.

For more information on preparedness, go to www.ready.ga.gov. For preparedness on the go, families also can download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app.

 

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