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Poll shows many unready for public health crisis

May 8, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – A recent survey sponsored by the American Public Health Association (APHA) indicates that about a third of Americans have made no preparations for a public health emergency and nearly 90% have prepared less than they think they should.
The APHA survey, released in April at an expert roundtable discussion during National Public Health Week, was recently posted on the association's Web site. The online survey was conducted in February by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, based in Washington, DC. It included 925 adults and sought the input of several specific groups, including mothers with children younger than 5, hourly wage workers, and adults who have chronic medical conditions.
The survey group also polled 120 employers and 150 school superintendents and interviewed a small group of regional food bank administrators and local food panty and soup kitchen managers.
Among the survey's key findings:

*Thirty-two percent of the public have taken no special steps to prepare for a public health emergency that could leave them short of food, water, or medication.

*An 87% majority said they knew they had not done enough and could do more to prepare for a public health emergency.

*Forty percent of respondents said they had taken steps to prepare in the past, such as after the Sep 11 terrorist attacks, but had since let their plans lapse.

*More than a quarter (27%) said they were prepared for an emergency, but only about half (14%) had the 3-day supply of food, water, and medication currently recommended by the American Red Cross for general disaster planning.

*Close to half—46%—of respondents had not assembled a disaster supply kit.

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