Emergency Preparedness

Americans Largely Financially Unprepared for Disaster

How much is enough to see you through?

The new study from The National Financial Council, for FEMA’s National Preparedness Month, is an effort by both groups to remind people to take a proactive approach to become prepared for emergency situations in advance.

LAS VEGAS, Sept. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — If a disaster suddenly struck – a hurricane, pandemic, or economic crisis, for example – how well would you be prepared to meet the situation? The National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) asked of 976 individuals across the US, “How much emergency money do you have saved that you could tap into in the case of a disaster in your area?”

The survey results indicate that, for the most part, Americans are drastically underprepared to handle such a major catastrophe. Among this sample, a sizable proportion (46.6%) of respondents specified that they would have less than two months’ worth of emergency money available to draw upon in case of a disaster. Almost 1 out of 3 respondents (32.6%) would have less than 1 month of emergency money.

The NFEC conducted the survey as part of its observance of National Preparedness Month, which occurs in September each year. National Preparedness Month was founded in 2004 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of its efforts to remind people to take a proactive approach to become prepared for emergency situations in advance.

FEMA suggests that individuals prepare, at minimum, to handle a three-day evacuation period and two weeks of being homebound. The NFEC, however, recommends being far better prepared – they suggest setting aside a year’s supply of essentials.

Emergency Savings Fund

The NFEC also offers up-to-date training in how to prepare for an emergency. To become adequately prepared for contingencies, the first important step is to build an emergency savings fund that would support at least six months’ worth of one’s survival needs and bill payments in case of a job loss or other circumstances that interfere with one’s ability to generate income. The next key steps include developing a personalized emergency plan and making sure all household members are aware of the plan; and building an emergency kit containing essential supplies, medications, and documents.

When it comes to disaster, it's not a question of "if," but rather "when" the next one will hit...

Regarding the survey findings, the NFEC’s CEO Vince Shorb commented, “As we saw with the COVID crisis, the 2008 financial downturn, and 9/11, the world as we know it can change overnight. These disasters often come without warning, so the time to prepare is now. We encourage you to take proactive measures to protect yourself and your loved ones, and be in a position to contribute to your community when the next disaster strikes.”

When it comes to disaster, it’s not a question of “if,” but rather “when” the next one will hit. Both FEMA and the NFEC strongly encourage all individuals to begin taking steps toward becoming better prepared to face the next major catastrophe we’ll be forced to tackle. National Preparedness Month offers an excellent reminder either to start getting prepared, or checking your inventory of money, supplies, and information to make sure you’re ready for whatever the coming year will bring.

The National Financial Educators Councils (NFEC’s) mission is on providing top-quality financial wellness programming that helps people work toward greater financial security. As a social Benefit Corporation, the NFEC’s social impact-focused enterprise has supported the development of thousands of programs over the last decade to reduce the cost and time needed to develop financial wellness programming, while providing tools and training that increase program impact.

See full data here

Survey conducted between August 29th and September 3rd, 2020.