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Most Georgians not ready for an emergency
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A recent statewide survey conducted on behalf of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) finds that when faced with large-scale emergencies, such as natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks or terrorist attacks, most Georgians are not prepared to survive without assistance for the recommended 72 hours, though 78 percent think they are.

The survey was conducted to measure Georgians’ emergency preparedness in preparation for the launch of GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign, which serves to educate and empower citizens to prepare for and respond to emergencies.  The survey yielded results that proved what many state officials feared — that too many Georgians are not prepared.

“The results confirmed that there is a great need to engage our citizens on the topic of emergency preparedness,” said GEMA and Homeland Security Director Charley English. “GEMA can support local authorities in responding to emergencies after they happen, but it is up to every person to be prepared in order to mitigate the effects of disasters.”

The phone survey of 300 people, completed in October, indicates that those who are least prepared tend to be younger, a minority, single, and have a lower household income. Though these groups tend to be the least prepared, the survey results show that few residents are as prepared as they should be.

When asked if they could survive for the next three days, should a disaster strike, 78 percent of the state population said yes. However, 80 percent claim that they are not fully prepared to survive a large-scale disaster, which indicates confusion over what being ready means.

Even with the heightened attention given to emergency preparedness after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, the survey found that in reality, most Georgians have failed to take the necessary steps towards being ready for a large scale emergency here.  

For instance, many people have not stocked their homes with some of the supplies needed. Most people have a flashlight, a basic first aid kit, batteries, water and non-perishable food, but lack other necessary supplies like face masks, cash and extra prescription medication.

In addition, 81 percent of respondents say they have not conducted an evacuation or fire drill with their families, while almost three quarters have not arranged a family meeting place or reunification plan during a disaster. Sixty-nine percent have not determined an alternate shelter or put together an emergency kit for the car.  

Other results highlighted Georgians’ perceptions about preparedness:
• Only 44 percent know they should be prepared to survive on their own for at least three days.
• A quarter of the population believes local, state or federal help would arrive within a day of a large-scale emergency strike.
• Ninety-seven percent believe it is important to help others during an emergency.
• Ninety-eight percent believe it is important to follow the warnings of local officials like police and firefighters.

Ready Georgia is a statewide campaign designed to educate and empower Georgians to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks, potential terrorist attacks and other large-scale emergencies. The campaign is a project of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and provides a local dimension to Ready America, a broader national campaign.  

Ready Georgia aims to prepare citizens for maintaining self-sufficiency for the 72 hours following an emergency, and uses an interactive Web site, online community toolkit, television and radio advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences.  

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