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Are There Differences Between Households With Children And Without Children Regarding The Degree Of Household Preparedness For A Disaster Such As Fire, Flood, Earthquake, Blackout Or Devastating Act Such As A Terrorist Attack In The Community?

I. Barata, I. Llovera, M. Ward, D. Miele, Andrew E. Sama, S. Falitz, A. Rapaport, J. Ayan
Published 2004 · Medicine

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Study objectives: The purpose of this study is to compare the level of disaster preparedness for individual households with and without children. Methods: This was a prospective survey of a convenience sample of English-speaking adults in the emergency department waiting area (includes patients and visitors) during a 3-month period in 2004. The survey asked for the following information: demographics, including number of children in the household; whether the individual had a specific disaster plan in effect for their family; knowledge of disaster plans at their place of work or their children's school or daycare center; whether they had essential supplies, medications, batteries, battery-powered radios, smoke detectors, or carbon monoxide detectors at home; and whether they had a communication plan in effect. These are current recommendations by the Department of Homeland Security and the American Red Cross. Results: A total of 414 surveys were completed by participants: 78% between the ages of 30 to 69 years, 56% female participants, 70% white, 64% married, 87% with a high school or greater level of education, 51% with children in the household, and 30% with household income greater than $100,000 per year. We obtained the following results. Fifty-five percent of households with children reported having done no specific disaster planning for the family compared with 63% of households without children ( P =.0883). Fifty-three percent of households with children compared with 46% of households without children ( P =.1782) reported changing their degree of preparedness after the blackout in the Northeast in 2003. Forty-seven percent of households with children are aware of the guidelines for household disaster preparedness compared with 45% of households without children ( P =.7329). Forty percent of households with children versus 50% of households without children have no knowledge of disaster plans at work ( P =.0344). Thirty-eight percent of participants with children in the household are not aware of their school or daycare disaster plans. Sixty-three percent of participants with children compared with 71% without children in the household ( P =.2678) have no portable easy-to-carry container with essential supplies. At home, 88% versus 83% of participants have a battery-powered radio, and 91% versus 92% of participants with and without children have a flashlight, respectively. Eighty-eight percent of participants with children versus 72% without children have a first aid kit at home ( P =.0097). Fifty-two percent versus 56% of participants with and without children reported having "special needs" items such as formula and medications in the house in case of an emergency. Seventy-nine percent of households with children versus 65% of households with children have a 3-day supply of food at home ( P =.0380). Seventy-six percent of households with children and 62% without children have a 3-day water supply ( P =.0509). We found that 91% of households with children versus 86% without children ( P =.1132) have smoke detectors, and 53% of households with children versus 37% without children ( P =.0009) have carbon monoxide detectors. The plan about communication strategies in case of an emergency showed that 48% of households with children versus 32% without children have a designated place to meet outside the neighborhood ( P =.0426); 37% of households with children versus 45% without children have an out-of-state family member or friend as contact, and of those with a contact, only 48% of households with children versus 50% responded that every household member knows the telephone number; in 44% of households with children versus 35% without children, every household member knows the e-mail address of that contact. Conclusion: We found that households with children seemed to be best prepared for an emergency. In comparing households with and without children, there were some statistically significant differences. Households with children have a better knowledge of work disaster plans (60% versus 50%, P =.03) and are more likely to have a designated place to meet outside the neighborhood in case of a disaster (48% versus 32%, P =.04). Households with children compared with households without children more often have a first aid kit at home (88% versus 72%, P =.01), a carbon monoxide detector (39% versus 27%, P =.02), and a 3-day supply of food at home (79% versus 65%, P =.04).



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