Are You Less Prepared Than Your Neighbors?

According to new research, the number of natural disasters per year has increased significantly over the last thirty years.  While the scientific community debates what the causes may be, disasters and destruction seem more and more prevalent in today’s world than 30 years ago and it is becoming increasingly important to prepare for emergency.

The following table taken from the Natural Disasters Data Book shows the increase in number of natural disasters per year from 1975-2010. (A disaster was entered into the database if at least 10 people perished, over 100 people were affected, was declared a state of emergency or there was a call for international assistance.)

How Do You Compare?
One year ago, National Geographic initiated a survey conducted by Kelton Research that found some interesting results on the preparedness of Americans.  The following are some of the findings:

How long will your supplies last?
If a disaster occurred, nearly 40% of people said they would only last two weeks based on their current supplies.  I’ll let you decide if two weeks is a long enough supply...

If you only had to take care of yourself during a catastrophe, about how long do you think you would survive based on the supplies you currently have in your home?

How prepared for emergency do YOU feel?
When asked how prepared they felt compared to their neighbor, 53% said they were “about as prepared” as their neighbors.  Ironically, 85% felt that “in the event of a catastrophe,” Americans as a whole will be under-prepared.

In the event of a catastrophe, do you think that most Americans will be...?

How much time would you need?
When asked how much time they needed to vacate town if there were a catastrophe, more than half, 52%, said they would need at least 30 minutes or more.  Again, I will let you be the judge on whether or not that is fast enough -- after all, it does depend on what the catastrophe is.  Just keep in mind, you will be much better off if you can grab a bug-out-bag and stay ahead of that rush of people trying to get out of town.

Would you help a neighbor?
If you are one of the unprepared reading this you might be in luck, 24% of Americans said they would help a neighbor in a disaster by sharing resources or supplies.  Of course, they may be one of your neighbors that only have a two week supply so I wouldn’t bank on bumming off your neighbor as your emergency plan.

How prepared are you?
According to Michael R. Greenberg, Ph. D., Susannah Dyen, MCRP, and Stacey Elliott, BS, in the article The Public’s Preparedness: Self-Reliance, Flashbulb Memories, and Conservative Values, 56.8% of respondents say they have a family communication plan so that they can contact family members or loved ones if they get separated during an emergency. Only 40.8% of Americans say they have developed a plan for an extended stay at home in case of a disaster which also corresponds to USA Today’s survey that 56% of Americans “say they aren’t prepared.”

Let's All Get Prepared
There is a peace and assurance that comes from knowing that you and your family is prepared for emergency.  If you haven’t already, we encourage you (no matter the companies used to become prepared for emergency)  and your household to start preparing now.  It doesn’t take much, just start doing a little every month or week to start building your food storage, emergency kits, and emergency plans.  We strongly recommend that you sit down as families to discuss  and practice your emergency plans so that, if the time comes, every family member knows what to do.

28 thoughts on “Are You Less Prepared Than Your Neighbors?”

  • Passerby

    It is a lifestyle change...for me it started with a mindset.

  • Phil

    I started small and grew from there. After my beginings, I wrote a regional Hurricane Preparedness Plan that I add to each year and distribute to a few thousand people.

  • Jason

    I lived through Hurricane Ike in 2008. I did evacuate, only to come home shortly after to find my home damaged, and widespread power outages. My community was without power for 2 weeks, trees down, and looting was common in other areas. My home received damage sustained to the roof from trees falling. I received no help from my neighbors, whom had no damage. All I got was, (Wow, glad it wasn't us) no kidding. Don't expect help from neighbors, no matter how close you think you are. Also, I did have about a weeks worth of food. We were standing in line for hours just to get ice, the store shelves were bare, this was just days after the storm. Also, many people were frustrated because they could pay with a credit card (Have cash folks ). We received zero help from FEMA, they picked and chose where to set up, they were not in every community. I received more and kinder help from the local church.
    Now, we have enough food stored for at least 30 days. We also have items such as tarps, (enough for entire roof) 2X4s and a generator.
    No matter how friendly your neighbors are, or how settled the community is, you are on your own, trust me.

  • Marine1967

    I have recently begun prepping, within the past year, after really noticing what is happening to our country. I see major problems coming down the road as I am sure most people that are aware do. However, my problem is trying to convince my wife that prepping is the appropriate thing to do. She doesn't watch the news (says it is too depressing), doesn't pay attention to whats happening around her (rising prices on EVERYTHING, increased violence, government taking more and more control, nanny state - just way does Homeland Security need a BILLION with a "B" rounds of ammunition stockpiled?). Any ideas in how I can convince someone that we should be and need to prepare if even for a natural disaster? I am open to any ideas. I would also like to find a local group, any ideas on how to locate one. They really don't do much advertising. LOL

    • Westerngal

      Hi Marine , one hint to find likeminded and helpful folks in your area is to look for a " Prepper store" in your area ( try a few , some are either gross or scary but most are great ) and talk to the proprietor. Also , CERT classes and if you really want to have some fun go to a Prepper Show and talk to the good people there .
      Keep prepping, your wife may not realize it but she is dependent on you . Well done .

  • Name: Lynn

    To Jason: Amen brother. The mobile home behind us burned to the ground and I was out there with a water hose hosing the giant pine tree and the grass that the fire was spreading. Some members of the fire department just stood and watched me while all of the neighbors stood and watched also. Seems like some of them could have taken a shovel and banged out the flames on the grass that the fire was spreading, BUT....... I know it is only a mobile home, but it is out HOME. We have water and food storage stored and are using it. I don't guess you can ever to careful.

  • TXGal

    Yeah, went through Ike m'self. Evacuated too. 2 weeks and a bit with no power, lost all the stuff in the fridge and freezer. FEMA? What FEMA? Never saw 'em. I now have 2 months supply of food and nearly that in water. The neighbors in my neighborhood at that time were helpful to each other - unlike what I saw in lots of other places, but it's still pretty much on your own folks. Just need to get the bug out bag put together so I don't need an hour to get out of town.

  • Doug M.

    @Marine1967: Don't try to convince her in an overly aggressive manner. My wife is the same, she'd rather watch "reality TV" garbage shows than open her eyes and see some of the issues that are developing. She patiently listens to me when I talk, but I'm pretty sure it goes in one ear and out the other. Do your prepping in a manner that doesn't involve her heavily. I've got enough supplies to keep us safe and fed, and did none of it with her help or interaction. When/ if something happens, then she'll be happy you did.

    • cynthia

      Doug, same for me, great advice, also. I did for my mom, she lives 36 miles away, age 92, refuses to see the forest for the trees. I began to store food on the floor in her back Water in her lower cabinets and when I finally told her she was prepared, she looked at me like I had grown four noses! I told her, just leave it in place for (sister) and her family if you never come to use it.
      I am prepared to rest or run. Thank goodness there was some heads up over the years. My advice: if you haven't yet, just start today.

  • LilPearl1977

    I am in the same boat marine and doug as you two, only it is my husband who likes the garbage tv and doesn't want to hear about all the bad things in the world. I work around him by getting ahead in my stockpile, anticipating some lean months ahead with his job and always pointing out that I want to eat should he be laid off. I used my bonus check last year to buy a wood/cook stove for a what if and I bought a generator with some of our tax refund last spring. And while my hubby won't commit to prepping as I have, last December the main power line to our home shorted out underground. It was our side of the pole and our responsibility to replace. You can bet hubby was so happy to have a. momma's generator and b. momma's groceries so we could throw all of our next paychecks at very expensive new line! We lived off that generator for two weeks while hubby did the labor himself without missing much work. Like Doug said, when/if something happens, they are glad you thought further ahead than they did =)

  • Brenda

    Also lived in Houston during Ike. Without power for 2+ weeks in heat. Being on a well, we had no water, no way to shower. Had a generator for fridge, but all gas stations were without power too. We did have food & drinking water & shared with neighbors. No home damage but next door had to cut up a large tree for elderly neighbors. Evacuating Houston not really an option, tried it before & after 24 hours, still not out of town. FEMA was nowhere to be seen during Ike, we had NO help except from the local LDS missionary young men who came through the neighborhoods to help any way they could. We now have gas stove & plenty of food & water.

  • Maddy

    To Marine1967: Just clean out that storage area and do it. Do not count on your wife understanding until the SHTF. And good luck with finding any "local" prepper groups. Most prepared people do not want others to know how prepared they are. After all, we are prepping to save our own families, not the entire neighborhood or all of our friends, as cold as that may sound, it is just reality. Find an on-line prepper group instead for advice, there are plenty of good sites. Good luck.

  • Rebecca

    I don't think this is very indicative. I don't feel I am near prepared as I need to be, and I have over a year supply of food and water and medical supplies. Someone who has a month supply for their family may think they are prepared. Or someone with a 2-week supply may also think they are prepared. So this study doesn't really measure how prepared we really are, without a specific standard to gauge by. (like in all research studies, there needs to be a control).

    Do I think I am more prepared than my neighbors? I don't know. I have no clue. How do we judge? I live in Utah, so Mormon country. We all are taught to have a year supply of food for our family. Not everyone listens. Some have more. But I don't go around asking my neighbors about that, and if someone happens to see some of my preps, you can make sure that they also see my guns and large stock of ammo!! :)

  • Beth

    If this article is true, this is not good.—I try to not “learn the hard way”. People have a good life and spend their money poorly. You realize this when you get older. Once you start prepping, you see how it is so convenient & a really good idea. My goal is to reach those that don’t believe it’s important.--It is so easy to “prep” because there are so many items that are say, 10 for $10. Just put a few items like that on a shelf. And voila! You are prepping. You don’t have to be a radical like some preppers, they are making a TV show. But it is really a fun hobby, if you are into conserving money. I buy food on sale and save ½ the regular price. I have a recipe that will cost .25 cents per serving due to what the Ready Store offers and it is delicious.—To reach someone that doesn’t believe? Two issues, food recalls and end result of shortages. You wouldn’t raise a baby without a 2nd supply of diapers; because that is just something you don’t want to run out of. Our grandmothers had a pantry and did prep. Houses aren’t made that way anymore but with the problems that are coming about with food recalls, i.e., dog food, fresh produce, rice due to droughts, etc., you have to have a full supply of whatever BEFORE you run out. Besides, the real issue is, with so many people prepping, they obviously know something that they aren’t saying. The government preps, the people need to also. It’s not that big of a deal.

  • Lori

    Some spiritual food for thought, are you as prepared to meet Christ as you are in storage of earthly goods? There is a reason for all of the "natural disasters" that are happening. Watch and pray- Christ's words not mine! Matt.24

    • cynthia

      Thanks, Lori, for that. First and foremost, prepare your heart and soul for Heaven. God will provide the way.

  • Mike

    two weeks after the grocery stores are looted we will see who is prepared and how little life will mean to a hungry person.

  • Cathy

    Two years ago we were in a wildfire. We had to get out NOW. We were not prepared. We left with the shirts on our backs. We did have living quarters in our horse trailer. People did come and help us with our horses, chickens, and dogs. Our cats hid. We evacuated to a friends place who was so gracious to feed us and all of our animals. After a few days we all had to evacuate again (including our friend and his animals). Everyone was running for their lives.

    Do not count on the government. We are responsible for ourselves. The Feds are what made our wildfire take off. Their fire management was pure incompetence. Our local guys had the fire under control and then the Feds pulled them off and it turned into a 2 week disaster from hell.

    Our community help was awesome. We had people loaning panels and fencing for all of the livestock evacuations. We had people from nearby cities donating truckloads of feed for our animals. It was awesome. It was amazing. RV parks rented for free to evacuees.

    But, the fire was burning in our rural area. If it had infiltrated the small city, that would have been a different story. The city people were able to help us. We didn't need the government.

    Once we were secure we helped others in need.

    Oh, we even had the department of agriculture wanting to confiscate our 'abandoned' horses. They were going to take over the care of our animals and take them to sale. Thankfully, we had someone who knew the laws and told them to kiss off.

    In the end, there was heavy loss of homes, businesses, pets, wildlife, etc. Thankfully, no human loss which is the most important. And God blessed us by sparing our home and a few neighbors. It was like His hand was placed over us as everything else burned. Gosh, it has been two years and it all still makes me a little emotional. By the way, the fire was deliberately started by the Mexican drug cartel.

  • Jack Hommel

    Prepping is as much a state of mind as it is the physical aspect. There a few practical rules to carry you through. DO NOT share info re: your level of preparedness with ANYONE. DO NOT offer to take in any refugees unless your prepared to give your life for them (i.e. loved ones). You can never be too well prepared.Do some really serious soul searching as to just how far you will go to defend your family and your self and your belongings.Don't forget to store water. A thousand gallons is just a good start.Secure a good camp stove and lots of propane bottles.
    Get a generator if you can afford one.

  • Roger Rabbit

    I was in Gulfport. Such a sad story of how unprepared FEMA is and was then. I was trained in Command Incident Response as a G-employee and know first hand that YOU ARE IN FACT on your own if something goes down. Weeks at best and maybe months if its really bad on a national level.


    Lots of Dehydrated foods, meats, fruits, vegs and spices.

    Have a good source of water or buy a couple of Berkeley Water Purifiers to use for any type of water.

    Have 2-way radios. If it is a national event the Cell phones will be a memory

    Have lots of Duracell batteries, D,AA,AAA 9Volt

    Have several good solar lanterns

    Have packages of Isoiodine for the effects of nuclear fallout and radiation.

    Have a great day..

  • Wes

    A previous poster mentioned storing lots of propane bottles. What & where is the best way to store those? Can they be safely store in your house? I live in the upper Midwest, so I didn't know if cold temps in winter would affect those propane bottles, if I were to store in the garage. But storing in the basement doesn't sound like a good idea either.

  • big mike

    Wes, I have 7 propane bottles stored on my porch. They have been there for about 3 years, I leave them out year round in texas. The temps in summer are around 103, winter has went down to 18. I havent had any problem with the heat or freezing temps. I wouldnt store them in the house or the garage a leak could happen and in an enclosed space wouldnt be a great thing to have happen.

  • maloosha

    Marine1967 My husband is informed and very handy with making things work. Engines, motors and such but I am the prepper. I ask for survival supplies for every holiday. I got new shotgun for Christmas. He agrees we should be ready but I think prep most of the time. I gave my son, daughter in law and grandkids NBC gas masks for Christmas and survival items in stockings. You would have thought it was a new car. Proud of those kids.

  • Northwoods Cheryl
    Northwoods Cheryl February 15, 2014 at 5:00 am

    I really don't like discussing my level of preparedness, but will if it helps someone here.. To me, preparedness is a lifestyle. I began about 25 years ago, likely more actually. I began growing a significant amount of my own food. I learned to can and dehydrate. How to be sure I would have water. I learned to bow hunt as well as shotgun. I am a single woman; a grandma at that. And I did it so more of you people can. I like to be prepped for every possible scenario I can think of. Learned not to store everything in 1 place. Learned "stealth gardening" so my vegetable plants are not so obvious. It takes YEARS, so the time to start is NOW. And don't plan on feeding the neighborhood or taking care of the community as many talk about. You won't live very long.

  • bats

    well known fact: wars are more profitable than peace...recent events in Ukraine are echo of the often forgotten line from the book "Omen" that goes something like that: "he who controls the food supplies controls the nations"...Slavs are once again shedding their blood for the sake of foreign interests...i guess now that so many Americans got burned on "investing for comfortable retirement into 401(k)" scam the fastest way to make more money for those poor corporations is to start a war somewhere, the more, the better, and fog-scream, as usual:
    "democracy is under attack"...what a great reusable banner to carry! did everyone got flu vaccinations? nope? we are being sheered, vaccinated and soon butchered like sheep...the only survivor will be, probably, Q. E. with her 13 trillion dollars of hard earned money...gosh, they do live forever, don't they...

  • Nathan

    Getting Loved Ones to open thier eyes to the need of being prepared can be a challenge at best. My two step daughters that live on thier own have the basics with a 30 day supply. Our third youngest in college has a 72 hr. pack. We have a 3 month supply at home and a little more at our bug out location, in case we have to leave with the shirts on our backs. Food, water, water purifiers, fuels, first aid, sanitation, protection- all the bases covered, including auto kits for all the cars, and I know that one can never be fully prepared for what a natural or man made disaster can throw at you.
    Staying informed and discussing what is going on in the world is what I found really helped in getting loved ones on board to being more prepared.
    Our grandparents would can vegetables to put away for the winter and "in case of a rainy day". That is prepping. I think that so many people have gotten away from saving for that rainy day- our families need to be reminded.

  • Rabelrouser

    I continually comes across those who are "prepping", sometimes not sure for what event, but prepping none the less. This is a good thing.
    But one thing keeps sticking in my mind, and that is Unity in the Prepping Community. There is very little of it, and that could cause many who are "prepped" to find themselves in a more difficult situation of defending their preps, their property and their lives.
    By forming community in the neighborhood, with those who are prepping, you assure yourself of being more capable to control situations which could get vastly out of control if faced alone.
    To find out who is prepping, just ask innoculious type questions, ones that usually start off with : What do you think about.....? The conversation can proceed from there without having to share too much info about the quanity and quality of your preps untill you have a trusting realtionship.
    Unity will always be the key to sucessfully riding out a difficult situation, and it ensures greater safety for all.

  • Aurora

    Prepping is a multifaceted concept. I've been prepping for decades by investing in knowledge. I've studied herbs (with a heavy eye on local plants), wild foods, etc. I have no faith that my overt gardens won't be stripped by other people (be it neighbors, roving bands, or the govt.) but that goes for stored food items as well. Knowledge can be taken anywhere.

    Although I live in the woods, that doesn't mean my prepped homestead will remain a safe place to stay in a long term catastophe. I keep bug out bags ready too as well as buried stashes, stored food, medicine, etc. but I have more than that. I'm not a walking encyclopedia but I would survive longer than most if I was left with nothing but my bug out bag.

    I have wild crafted edibles and medicinals all over my property. If people don't know what those weeds are for, they'll have no interest in them. In the mean time, I'll still be eating.

    During the Great Depression, elk and deer were hunted to extinction in the state of Arkansas. There are a hellova lot more people on the planet now than there were during that time. People of that generation were considerably more respectful than the generations of today too. You'll have meat to hunt for a while, but what happens when they're extinct? Same for fish. After your stores are no longer available and there's no meat to hunt or fish to catch.... then what?

    That's what I'm calling prepared.... being ready for all that you can to live in "relative" comfort but being ready for the "then what" too. How ready are you for the "then what"?

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