Are you Prepared? Using FEMA Survey Data and Small-Area Estimation to Visualize Hazard Preparedness Across the U.S.

Authors: Forest Cook*, Utah State University, Peter Howe, Utah State University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Hazards and Vulnerability, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: hazard preparedness, natural hazards, survey data, MRP, human-environment interaction
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 51
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Natural hazards, such as floods, earthquakes and severe storms, can have costly and deadly consequences to society and the environment. In order for humans to better cope with the consequences of a potential disaster, we employ a number of adaptive measures that increase preparedness and resilience and decrease vulnerability and damages. When it comes to measuring hazard preparedness across geographies, studies tend to focus on local preparedness activities using a variety of survey techniques but what remains is a lack of national, comprehensive data on the subject; until now. Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released their National Household Survey (NHS) results for public use, taking a nationally representative sample (approximately n = 5000) that gauges the American public’s preparedness attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge regarding preparing for disasters. We use a multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP) technique to obtain subnational estimates from FEMA’s national data. Specifically, questions gauging how prepared a household is, such as if the home has an evacuation plan in place, if there is a stockpile of food and supplies in the home, and how much money is set aside in case of a disaster, are evaluated and visualized. This technique allows preparedness to be measured across the United States and visualized on the state and county levels to inform researchers, humanitarian workers, and the public alike about which communities are more or less prepared for disaster.

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