Natural Disasters and Terrorist Threats Top Americans' Public Safety Concerns

Federal Signal - Safe America Foundation Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes & Preferences in Emergency Situations

Dec 01, 2010, 09:00 ET from Federal Signal Corporation

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Three in five Americans are most concerned about emergencies involving a natural disaster or terrorist attack, with a health pandemic closely following as a top concern among 46 percent of respondents, according to Federals Signal's 2010 Public Safety survey released today. The survey was done in partnership with Safe America Foundation and Zogby International as part of an effort to uncover Americans' chief concerns and most likely behaviors in emergencies.

Federal Signal, a maker of public communications equipment and systems, will announce the survey results today at Safe America Foundation's (SAF) '9/11 Drill Down for Safety' briefing at USA Today headquarters.  The meeting of public safety leaders and government officials provides a national stage to review the results and progress from this year's 9/11 disaster preparedness program that mobilized more than a half-million people across 34 states.  

Safe America leaders will outline plans to mobilize one million people to be involved in disaster training programs leading up to the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.  Former United States Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, an Honorary Chairman of the Drill Down for Safety Program, is among the dignitaries who will address the forum.

"We conducted this research with Safe America to survey Americans' attitudes towards public safety and various emergency situations," said Joe Wilson, Vice President and General Manager of Federal Signal.  "Successful preparedness efforts must widely reflect current public attitudes, behaviors and preferences—the human factor.  And effective notification means overcoming today's complicated communication realities by delivering action-oriented information using multiple methods."

Among the findings, the 2010 American Public Safety survey revealed that almost half of respondents (47 percent) do not have an emergency plan, while 46 percent do.  Americans who live in the West and/or those living in rural areas are more likely to have family/household emergency plans in place versus those who live in the East and/or those that live in large cities.

Research also discovered that Americans are most fearful of an emergency taking place in an airport (60 percent), followed closely by some form of mass transit (52 percent). About two in five respondents are most fearful of an emergency taking place at a school, a stadium or arena, a roadway or shopping mall.

"We need more emphasis put on the importance of emergency preparedness," said Secretary Mineta.  "By doing so, more Americans will feel confident in their abilities to react to an emergency.  With organizations like Safe America and companies like Federal Signal unveiling Americans' feelings about public safety, we now have a roadmap on how best to meet this critical objective."

When citing notification preferences, one in four Americans would prefer to be notified about an emergency by a telephone call (26 percent) or by television (25 percent).  Another 18 percent say they would like to be notified by text message, while 15 percent would like the announcement by outdoor loud speakers.  One in ten prefers to be notified by radio. These responses were similar among all age groups, with the exception of those aged 18-29, who most prefer to receive notification on television (33 percent) or by text message (29 percent).

"Commissioning this research with Federal Signal and Zogby International has not only given us a realistic view of how Americans feel about certain emergencies, but also provides us with deeper insights into how to better communicate emergencies," said Len Pagano, President of Safe America Foundation. "Technology is a large part of our culture and these results assist us in finding out how different types of Americans prefer to be notified about emergencies. "

"While almost half of Americans have an emergency plan should a natural disaster or terrorist attack take place, more than half do not have an emergency kit readily available," said John Zogby, Chairman and Chief Insights Officer for Zogby International. "The majority of those with an emergency plan in place live in rural areas or the West while a lesser percentage of people in the East and urban areas have a plan.  Of those Americans with an emergency plan, 65 percent have taken into consideration their pets or other animals.  And over 60 percent are confident in their knowledge of their areas emergency procedures, for example evacuation routes. "  

Additional key findings include:

Less than half of American households or families have an emergency plan

  • Half of respondents say their family does not have an emergency plan, while 44% say they do.
  • Those more likely to have an emergency plan:
    • Live in the West: 47%
    • Married: 48%
    • Live in a Rural Area: 53%
  • Those least likely to have an emergency plan:
    • Live in the East: 40%
    • Single: 36%
    • Live in a Large City: 40%

Americans that have an emergency plan include their pets

  • Among those who do have an emergency plan in place, two-thirds (65%) have considered their pets or other animals in their preparedness plans.

More than half of Americans do not have an emergency kit available

  • More than half (54%) of Americans do not have an emergency kit available to them to deal with emergency situations, while 43% say they do have such a kit on hand.
  • Those who have an emergency kit, include some of the following items:
    • First aid supplies: 97%
    • Lighting supplies (flashlights and extra batteries): 91%
    • Water: 85%
    • Tools: 83%
    • Food supplies: 79%
    • Personal hygiene supplies: 71%
    • Clothing: 54%
    • Pet supplies: 49%
    • Cleaning supplies: 47%

Americans prefer technology for emergency notification

  • Thirty-nine percent would proactively seek information on their television, while one in three (32%) would use the Internet. One in ten each said they would make phone calls (11%) or use mobile Internet to find more information about an emergency.
  • Younger age group prefers Internet: Those most likely to proactively search for information on the Internet include 18-29 yr olds (49%).
  • Women choose TV: Women (45%) are more likely than men (33%) to turn to a television in an emergency.

Americans want public safety officers equipped with technology

  • Communication technology found most important: The vast majority (88%) of respondents say mobile or wireless communication systems (to connect first responders, EMTs, hospitals, fire, police) are the most important tools for public safety officers to perform their duties.
  • Vehicle technologies are also important:  Just over three in four (79%) say having fully-equipped vehicles is most important. More than half indicate that traffic clearing technology (56%) and GPS tracking devices (55%) are most important.

Only half of the population knows about local alerting

  • Half (51%) say that they know if their city or town is able to alert them in case of an emergency, while 49% say they do not know or are not sure if their town provides updated sirens, communication technologies or procedure/evacuation information.

About the Survey

Zogby International was commissioned by Federal Signal to conduct an online nationwide survey of 2,020 adults. All surveys were completed November 8 through November 10, 2010. A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate.  

About Federal Signal

Federal Signal Corporation (NYSE: FSS) enhances the safety, security and well-being of communities and workplaces around the world. Founded in 1901, Federal Signal is a leading global designer and manufacturer of products and total solutions that serve municipal, governmental, industrial and institutional customers. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., with manufacturing facilities worldwide, the Company operates four groups: Safety and Security Systems, Environmental Solutions, Federal Signal Technologies, and Fire Rescue. For more information on Federal Signal, visit:

About Safe America Foundation

The Safe America Foundation is a Marietta, Georgia based 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to addressing emerging health and safety issues – at home, work and play. Founded in 1994, the foundation develops educational programs in partnership with the academic, corporate, public and nonprofit sectors. For more information, visit or call 770-973-7233. Safe America can also be found on Twitter @safeamerica .

About Zogby International

Zogby International is a U.S. market research, opinion polling firm founded in 1984 by John Zogby. The company polls and consults for a wide spectrum of business media, government, and political groups, and conducts public opinion research in more than 70 countries. Zogby International is headquartered in Utica, New York, with offices in Washington, D.C., Miami, Florida, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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SOURCE Federal Signal Corporation