TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 19, 2020) – Researchers with the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs have released the last set of results from a statewide survey that measures household emergency preparedness, as well as general opinions regarding the COVID-19 public health crisis and related policy issues.
Below are key findings related to household readiness for hurricanes and other disasters and the impact of COVID-19 on that readiness:
Most Floridians are less likely to go to a hurricane shelter due to COVID-19: If threatened by a hurricane, 71% of Floridians said they would be less likely to go to a hurricane shelter because of COVID-19, 5% said they would be more likely to go to a shelter, and 24% said that COVID-19 would not affect their decision.
Florida residents split on whether COVID-19 would impact their decision to evacuate from a hurricane: Following a voluntary evacuation order, nearly half of Floridians (47%) said that COVID-19 would not affect their decision to evacuate while 44% said they would be less likely. Only 9% stated that they would be more likely to follow an evacuation order.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not stunted most Floridians’ readiness for an emergency: When asked about the impact of COVID-19 on their household’s readiness for an emergency, only 15.5% of Floridians reported being less prepared, while 36.5% said they are more prepared and 48% reported that COVID-19 did not affect their household’s readiness for an emergency.
A majority of Floridians could manage initial post-hurricane impacts without assistance: A large majority of Floridians (79%) mentioned that they could manage their household for three days without any assistance if a hurricane left their community without electricity and running water, while only 21% stated they could not or were not sure. Most respondents reported having three days of non-perishable food (85%), drinking water (81%), and prescription medication (86%) per member of household.
More than one-third of Floridians do not have at least $1,000 available to cover an unexpected emergency: 37% of Floridians reported having less than $1,000 to cover unexpected emergency expenses. In that group, 9% reported having no money available. Fifteen percent of residents reported having $1,001 to $2,000 and 38% of households reported having more than $2,000 available.
Hurricanes and public health crises top the list of concerns for Floridians: Most Floridians are very and somewhat concerned about their community facing a hurricane-related wind event (88%) or hurricane-related flooding (73%) in the next year. A majority of Floridians (85%) are very and somewhat concerned about a pandemic/public health emergency while only (15%) are not concerned. Also of concern are tornados (62%), wildfires (58%), civil disorder/rioting (53%), and sinkholes (48%).
Most Floridians believe that a major hurricane would negatively affect their household: A majority of Floridians (87%) mentioned that a category 3 or higher hurricane would severely or somewhat affect their household. Only 11% believe that their household would not be very affected and only 2% mentioned it would not affect it.
Only half of Floridians have an evacuation plan or emergency kit: Half of Floridians (50%) mentioned having an evacuation plan if a severe hurricane or other natural disaster threatened their community while 44% reported not having a plan and 6% were unsure. Only 41% reported having a stocked emergency kit (or “go-bag”) in case of a forced evacuation while 59% did not have one or were not sure.
Local government considered the most trusted source for emergency information: 40% of Floridians say they have a great deal of trust in local government for accurate and up-to-date emergency information. Only 22% had the same level of trust in both state government and the federal government.
More than half of Florida residents prefer to receive emergency alerts through text message: More than half (54%) of Floridians said they prefer to receive text alerts and updates in an emergency such as a hurricane over other methods such as television (29%), social media (9%), home phone (4%), or radio (3%).
The survey of 600 Floridians was fielded July 30-Aug.10, 2020, and the results are reported with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error +/-4%.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.