Americans are overwhelmingly unprepared for a public health crisis, according to a national poll released by APHA in April.
The poll, which was released in conjunction with National Public Health Week, found that 87 percent of Americans would not be ready if a public health crisis such as an infectious disease epidemic or foodborne illness outbreak struck their communities tomorrow.
Even among those who have taken steps in the past to prepare — stocking food, buying batteries or putting together a first aid kit — many admitted that they have let their preparedness plans lapse.
The poll, which was conducted in February by Peter D. Hart Research Associates on behalf of APHA, found that many people who believe they are prepared actually are not. While 27 percent of respondents said they were ready for a public health crisis — which was defined as a serious event that causes disease, disability or death in groups of people or communities — only 14 percent had an adequate supply of food, water and medication. And fewer than half of the public said they had a disaster supply kit with items such as a flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit and a radio.
Among the other poll results were findings that:
* 57 percent of respondents said they thought a severe storm such as a hurricane, tornado or blizzard could lead to a public health crisis in their community in the next few years, while 47 percent said a crisis from a disease such as the flu is likely and 43 percent thought such a crisis could result from foodborne illness.
* only 37 percent of employers thought a major public health crisis will affect their organization in the next year or two.
* 84 percent of school adminstrators surveyed said they had evacuation plans in place for their schools and 64 percent said they had communications plans to contact students’ families in the event of a public health crisis.
Fact sheets and a checklist on preparedness are available on the National Public Health Week Web site.
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