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For Immediate Release:
May 29, 2007
For more information contact:
Public Health Communications
(213) 240-8144

More Than One-Third of Los Angeles County Residents Are Not Prepared For an Emergency: Natural or Man-Made

LOS ANGELES - A new report from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reveals that many people living in LA County are not prepared for an emergency event such as an earthquake or a terrorist attack. The risk of a natural or man-made disaster occurring here remains high, yet more than 35% of county residents who responded to the 2005 LA County Health Survey say their households are not prepared to deal with a large-scale disaster.

The report shows that differences in age, ethnicity, education, and income levels are associated with varying levels of preparedness:

  • More than one-third of respondents reported they would not immediately follow instructions from a government official until they received more information. Those with higher educational backgrounds and greater income were less likely to follow immediate instructions.
  • Only 57% of respondents said they would immediately follow local government officials' instructions to go to the nearest public school in the event of a terrorist attack. 4% said they would not follow such instructions at all.
  • Over half of those adults living below the federal poverty level (household income of $18,700 for a family of four in 2003) reported their household is not prepared for an emergency.
  • 55% of those with less than a high school education felt unprepared compared to only 28% of those with a college or graduate degree.
  • 45% of Latinos and Asian/Pacific Islanders reported their households are not prepared compared to 35% of African Americans and 23% of whites.
  • More older adults and seniors said they feel prepared compared to those in other age groups.
  • The report also focused on those who may need additional assistance during a disaster. Vulnerable populations include the poor, the elderly, families with children, individuals who are chronically ill or disabled, and those who do not speak English. The report shows these populations are concentrated in certain areas of LA County, including the geographic region known as Service Planning Area (SPA) 6, which extends from South Los Angeles to Compton.

    "As we have seen from Hurricane Katrina's effects on Louisiana's Ninth Ward, it is imperative that the residents of Los Angeles County prepare themselves for the likelihood of a disaster, natural or man-made. Residents can take basic steps as outlined in Public Health's emergency campaign "Just Be Ready; Prepare Together." These include setting aside food, water, flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, any necessary medications, a radio, toiletries, utility shut-off tools, cash and important documents in emergency storage containers or backpacks in order to mitigate the damage that comes from such disasters," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

    In 2005, more than 20% of county households did not have emergency supplies. In addition, only 41% of residents said they had a family emergency plan, such as the phone number of a friend or relative outside the area through which family members could communicate, or a location for family members to meet in the event of a disaster.

    The full report, entitled "How Prepared Are Los Angeles County Residents for an Emergency?", provides tips for individuals, families and communities on ways they can prepare for a disaster. It can be accessed via the Department of Public Health Web site at http://www.lapublichealth.org/ha. The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health overseas environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and an annual budget exceeding $700 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, visit http://www.lapublichealth.org.


    Related Information Site(s): Public Health Department Health Assessment Unit | LA County Department of Public Health