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Ninety-two percent of Americans have survived a natural disaster, but many may not be prepared for the next one

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) made 95 major disaster and fire declarations last year. In 2012, FEMA declared 112 major disasters and fires, including Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Isaac, and the High Park and Waldo Canyon wildfires. This is nearly double the number of disaster declarations made only two decades ago.

Despite the frequency of severe weather, a new survey released by Allstate shows people may not be as prepared as they should be for the next big storm. Ninety-two percent of Americans surveyed have lived through a disaster. Seven percent of the people polled say they or someone in their family was injured when a disaster impacted their community.

The survey findings also revealed more than 90 percent of Americans have not practiced an evacuation plan or a way to escape if a major storm is approaching and 64 percent of Americans have not created an inventory list of the belongings in their home. Nearly a third of Americans (30 percent) admitted they would take their chances and ignore evacuation orders in the face of an imminent natural disaster.

"No one should risk putting themselves or their family in danger," said Mark McGillivray, Allstate's senior vice president of Claims. "While we see some progress since surveying consumers a couple of years ago, the latest survey results demonstrate there is still work to do to remind people that Mother Nature can strike at any time, any place. It is important for individuals and families to be ready, just in case the unthinkable happens."

FEMA states that preparation is a family's best defense. There are a few simple steps to take to get ready and be ready before the serious weather starts. Evacuating your family to a safe place during a natural disaster takes planning and preparation. It is important to discuss an evacuation plan and including a meeting location away from the home.

It is important to prepare an emergency kit containing a first-aid kit, personal hygiene items, water supply, non-perishable foods, weather radio, and flashlight. Also crucial is having an up-to-date inventory of items in your home. An easy way to keep up to date is walking through your home taking pictures of videos of your belongings and storing them online. Allstate uses a free application, Digital Locker, which lets people keep an inventory of all their personal property -- organized and accessible at a moment's notice -- on their smart phone or any internet-connected computer.

"The start of hurricane season is a time when forecasters predict the number and severity of hurricanes expected to impact coastal communities around the country," said McGillivray. "For those who live in hurricane-prone or disaster-prone areas, take time to ensure you are prepared. Simple steps can go a long way to keep loved ones safe and possibly reduce the damage from disasters."

Allstate has additional disaster preparation tools and resources available on the Be Aware and Prepare website. Information on FEMA's flood insurance program can be found at floodsmart.gov.

The survey was conducted by FTI Consulting for Allstate. The survey representatives a sample of 1,000 American adults with homeowner’s or renter's insurance. Interviews were conducted April 8-16, 2014 via phone and have a margin of error + 3.1% at the 95% confidence interval.


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