Majority of American Families Not Prepared for Emergency Situations

Survey Finds 64 Percent of Respondents Don’t Have Emergency Preparedness Kit

MILWAUKEE (September, 1, 2011) — Sixty-four percent of American families are not prepared for emergency situations, according to a recent GE Generator Systems survey.

The survey, conducted in anticipation of National Preparedness Month in September, showed almost two-thirds of families did not have an emergency preparedness kit at home. Having an emergency preparedness kit, along with an emergency family communication plan in place, are two key steps the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready Campaign urges families to take.

“Properly preparing for an emergency situation before it occurs goes a long way to ensure you and your family stay safe,” said Carissa Gingras, marketing manager at Briggs & Stratton, the exclusive licensee of GE Generator Systems. Both Briggs & Stratton and GE are coalition members of the Ready Campaign. 

The survey reached 2,004 parents between Aug. 4 and Aug. 15 living in the United States with children in the household under the age of 17. 

The GE Generator Systems survey found families living in the West to be most prepared (45 percent of respondents have an emergency preparedness kit), followed by the South (39 percent), East (34 percent) and Midwest (30 percent). 

Seventy-three percent of parents have talked to their children about what to do when the power goes out. But 64 percent of respondents who leave their children with a baby sitter haven’t talked to their baby sitter about what to do in the event of a power outage. 

The survey did find that families are more likely to prepare for a power outage if they have endured an outage in the recent past. More than half of respondents — 56 percent — who have experienced a power outage of at least 12 hours in the past two years said they were motivated by the event to make preparations for a future outage. 

The most common items respondents reported keeping in their emergency preparedness kits included a flashlight and extra batteries (97 percent); first-aid kit (96 percent); manual can opener (93 percent); and a three-day supply of non-perishable food (88 percent). Still, many were missing some of the key preparedness tools the FEMA Ready Campaign recommends: 

  • 35 percent did not have a battery-powered or hand crank radio
  • 28 percent did not have enough water on hand (recommended one gallon per person per day for at least three days)
  • 27 percent did not have a cell phone with chargers, and inverter or solar charger

“While we were pleased to see that most families talk to their children about what to do if the lights go out and could find a flashlight in an outage, these survey results reaffirmed the importance of efforts like the Ready Campaign to raise awareness of what families need on hand in an emergency,” Gingras said. “We hope more families are inspired during National Preparedness Month to complete their emergency preparedness kit.” 

For complete survey results, visit For more information about how to properly prepare for an emergency, visit

Data for this survey was collected by Harris Interactive Service Bureau (“HISB”) on behalf of Client.  HISB was responsible for the data collected and Client was responsible for the survey design, data analysis and reporting.