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Preparedness Research

FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division (ICPD) is committed to helping local efforts achieve greater community resilience.  In order to determine how best to assist local preparedness activities, we conduct periodic research in the field of disaster preparedness to evaluate the nation’s progress with whole community preparedness. These findings are particularly relevant as we prepare our communities for a possible pandemic flu outbreak, hurricane season and other emergency incidents. Furthermore, findings from the research measure the public’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviors relative to preparing for a range of hazards and provide valuable insight for increasing personal preparedness, civic engagement and community resilience.  Below are examples of the research FEMA ICPD has conducted:

Citizen Preparedness Surveys Database

Since 2005, the Citizen Preparedness Survey Database serves as a repository for disaster preparedness-related research studies. The database is updated annually to include new key search terms and surveys made available online in the past year. Studies included in the database meet the following criteria:

  • Be a survey of the general public at the national, regional, or city level (and may also sample special populations, e.g., Katrina evacuees, businesses, or schools);
  • Examine individual or organizational concerns about, or preparedness for, a disaster or terrorist attack;
  • Be a survey of U.S. residents; and
  • Be conducted after September 11, 2001.

If you are aware of relevant survey that is not included in this database, please contact The below links will take you to the most recent updated copies.

Download the Citizen Corps Survey Database Description, Methodology, and Inventory Update (5-page PDF; 202.37 KB)

Download the Disaster Preparedness Surveys Database: Public, Businesses, and Schools (69-page PDF; 945.56 KB)

Preparedness in America: September 2013

FEMA recognizes that widespread cultural change is a long-term process, and while the national statistics on basic preparedness actions have remained largely constant, findings documented in Preparedness in America offer valuable insights for adapting education efforts to increase preparedness. Key findings from the research focus on the public’s behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes related to preparing for a range of hazards.

Download the Preparedness in America Report

Awareness to Action:  A Workshop on Motivating the Public to Prepare

On June 27–28, 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross (Red Cross) hosted a workshop to discuss how to improve preparedness messaging to encourage the public to prepare themselves and their families for a disaster. After two days of intensive discussions, participants, including academics and researchers, practitioners, and private sector partners, came to an important conclusion—while this is not easy and there is no silver bullet, the potential exists to significantly improve our preparedness messaging strategies.

Download the Summary Report on Awareness to Action (69-page PDF, 5 MB)

Personal Preparedness Survey:  2012 Findings

“Personal Preparedness in America: Findings from the 2012 FEMA National Survey” provides information on the status of the public’s knowledge of, attitudes about, and behaviors related to preparing for a range of hazards. The data can be used to improve collaborative planning, outreach, education, and training to engage all Americans so that they become active participants in creating communities and a Nation resilient to disasters.

Download the Personal Preparedness in America: Findings From the 2012 FEMA National Survey

Personal Preparedness Survey:  2009 Findings

During the 2009 National Conference on Community Preparedness, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a new report Personal Preparedness in America: Findings from the 2009 Citizen Corps National Survey that offers comprehensive data on the public's thoughts, perceptions, and behaviors related to preparedness and community safety for multiple types of hazards.  Findings from these surveys provide valuable insights for increasing personal preparedness, civic engagement, and community resilience.  These findings are particularly relevant as we prepare for a possible pandemic flu outbreak, hurricane season, and other hazards.

View Additional Information on the 2009 Findings