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9/11 Public Safety Survey: Americans' Emergency and Safety Concerns

 

The tragedy of 9/11 forced everyone to examine just exactly how the government goes about keeping America safe. Yet, a decade later, while disaster preparedness is an even more important issue, only half of Americans feel safer today, while 90 percent believe improvement to public emergency awareness in necessary, according to Federal Signal’s 2011 Public Safety Survey. Federal Signal is a leading global designer and manufacturer of public safety communications equipment and systems. Their national study examines the safety awareness among Americans, where citizens feel the safest, the state of disaster preparedness, and prioritizes public safety.

Conducted by Zogby International, the study involved 2,153 adults across the United States. Founded in 1901, Federal Signal is a leading global designer and manufacturer of products and total solutions that serve municipal, governmental, industrial and institutional customers. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., with manufacturing facilities worldwide, the company operates four groups: Safety and Security Systems, Environmental Solutions, Federal Signal Technologies, and Fire Rescue.

Zogby International was commissioned by Federal Signal to conduct the online nationwide survey of 2,153 adults. All surveys were completed July 29 through Aug. 1, 2011. A sampling of Zogby International’s online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate.

Other key findings included:

• One third (34 percent) of Americans feel that public safety is a not a priority in their community.

• Almost 4 out of 10 consider their city or town slightly to completely unprepared in the event of an emergency, including unexpected emergency risks such as natural disasters, terrorism and health pandemics.

“This survey speaks volumes to perceptions about the current state of public safety awareness and emergency preparedness and reminds us solutions must come from year-round, community-wide engagement and action,” noted Joe Wilson, president of Federal Signal’s Safety and Security Systems Group. “While two-thirds of Americans feel public safety is a priority in their communities, we can’t be satisfied until we have the entire population positively expressing this sentiment.”

Federal Signal’s research further unveiled that more than 4 in 10 Americans feel that public safety planning is not a priority to their employers. When asked where they felt safest, only 4 percent of respondents said at work. However, respondents who live in a smaller city feel that their employers prioritize safety much higher (73 percent) than those who live in a rural area (48 percent). When citing recent natural disasters, for example the earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods that occurred in 2011, 52 percent of Americans indicated that attention to emergency preparedness has not increased.

Of those respondents, an overwhelming 90 percent between the ages of 18 and 24 believe attention to emergency preparedness has not increased, and those who live in a city believe that attention has increased more than those who live in suburban or rural areas. “Whether you’re considering 9/11 or the devastating natural disasters that occurred in 2011, the danger should never be completely removed from Americans’ minds,” Wilson said. “We need to collectively consider and actively discuss how we should prepare, respond and communicate in the event of an emergency scenario.”

According to the survey, public safety awareness has not improved for almost half of Americans, with 46 percent reporting they maintain the same or a lesser level of awareness as compared to a year ago. Twenty-two percent claimed that nothing will make an effective impact to increasing public safety awareness.

“We need to remind Americans what individuals and families can and should do on their own,” Wilson added. “Federal Signal is committed to helping ensure that Americans are not only prepared for an emergency situation, but that they’re aware of what is being done to keep them safe in a disaster.”

The study also examined how Americans choose to communicate during an emergency scenario, finding 57 percent of survey respondents would use multiple forms of communication, including text messaging, social media and e-mail if no landline or cell phone voice communications were available in the event of an emergency.

“Threats of terrorist attack and natural disasters were deemed Americans’ greatest public safety concerns in our annual survey last December. This year’s research not only reaffirms these concerns, but reveals a greater need for more visible public safety awareness and emergency planning education,” Wilson said. “Federal Signal invites everyone to sign up for local community mass notification services and to take advantage of other available online resources such as information about what to include in an emergency kit, how to practice evacuation drills, and remembering the importance of texting first and talking second for non-emergency communications during a disaster.”

Published in Public Safety IT, Nov/Dec 2011

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