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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
January 2, 2013

Household Preparedness for Public Health Emergencies—14 States, 2006-2010

JAMA. 2013;309(1):21-24. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.13026

MMWR. 2012;36:713-719.

2 tables omitted. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/wk/mm6136.pdf.

Populations affected by disaster increase the demand on emergency response and public health systems and on acute care hospitals, often causing disruptions of services.1 Household preparedness measures, such as having a 3-day supply of food, water, and medication and a written household evacuation plan, can improve a population's ability to cope with service disruption, decreasing the number of persons who might otherwise overwhelm emergency services and health-care systems.2 To estimate current levels of self-reported household preparedness by state and sociodemographic characteristics, CDC analyzed Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey data collected in 14 states during 2006–2010. The results of this analysis indicated that an estimated 94.8% of households had a working battery-operated flashlight, 89.7% had a 3-day supply of medications for everyone who required them, 82.9% had a 3-day supply of food, 77.7% had a working battery-operated radio, 53.6% had a 3-day supply of water, and 21.1% had a written evacuation plan. Non-English speaking and minority respondents, particularly Hispanics, were less likely to report household preparedness for an emergency or disaster, suggesting that more outreach activities should be directed toward these populations.