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With tsunamis, earthquakes and financial concerns dominating the headlines over the past year, National Geographic Channel and Kelton Research on February 7 released the results of a survey gauging Americans’ preparedness levels and mind-set related to a potential “Doomsday” scenario.
Most Americans are fearful of catastrophes, yet are poorly prepared, according to the new survey. Eighty-five percent of the nation is not ready for a devastating event, blame the recession for their unpreparedness and are more fearful of a man-made catastrophe if a Republican wins the presidential election.
This comes as NGC launches its new series Doomsday Preppers focusing on Americans with an unshakable certainty that America soon faces tougher times – when grocery stores are empty, water is in short supply and electricity is unavailable – and are stockpiling for survival.
In the survey of more than 1,000 men and women conducted online from January 3 to January 10 with a 3.1 percent margin of error, the question was asked, “Which of the following, if any, do you think might happen in the United States in the next 25 years?” Earthquakes (64%), hurricanes (63%) and terrorism (55%) are the most feared, followed by financial collapse (51%), significant blackout (37%), a pandemic (29%) and nuclear fallout (14%).
Regardless of the incident, more than 62 percent Americans think the world will experience a major catastrophe in less than 20 years. And nearly three out of every four people (71%) envision a major disaster in their lifetime as an act of God, not man. Nearly one-third (27%) believe that the Mayan calendar’s prediction about a calamitous event in December 2012 will be at least “somewhat true.”
“The results demonstrate that in a disastrous scenario most people are unprepared,” says Scott Hunt, co-owner and engineer with Practical Preppers, a firm specializing in emergency preparedness. “You need to take a practical approach to preparedness so that in a crisis situation you are not part of the problem, but the solution. I hope more people feel compelled to start looking at this seriously and take solid steps to be ready.”
With the presidential election this November, politics also factored into the results, with more than half of the nation (52%) believing that if Mitt Romney or one of his Republican counterparts overtake Barack Obama, a man-made catastrophe is more likely.
Among those who feel unprepared, 40 percent cite the lasting effects of the recession as the reason for their unpreparedness. But the same number (40%) is saying “to hell with a 401(k)” to save money for catastrophe arrangements. Nearly half (49%) of Americans would forgo new high-end appliances in a new home if it had a safe room or bomb shelter instead.
Dr. Berger, senior lecturer on modern apocalyptic narratives at Yale University, expands on why Americans are straying away from such items for their homes: “If large numbers of people are to be protected from some natural or social disaster, there must be some public mechanisms put in place – for evacuations, food, water, medicine, etc., as well as proper infrastructure that will mitigate damage.”
While one in four Americans have done nothing to prepare, among those who have prepared, actions they have taken are very basic: 60 percent have stored canned food; 58 percent drinking water; and 56 percent batteries. However, only 12 percent of the population has practiced drills, and 39 percent have learned basic survival skills.
Were “doomsday to arrive,” nearly four in 10 (39%) don’t think they would last two weeks based on the supplies they have on hand.