2020 Survey Reveals Most Americans are Unprepared for Disaster

Emergency preparedness checklist on clipboard in foreground and a large pile of supplies to be used in case of a natural disaster (hurricane, flood, earthquake, etc.) including: batteries, water bottles, first aid kit, lantern, radio, backpack. No people.

BIRMINGHAM, Mich.—August 27, 2020—BELFOR Holdings, Inc. (BELFOR)—the world’s largest disaster recovery and property restoration company—conducted a national survey which found that despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. experiencing 14 separate billion-dollar natural disasters in 2019, 75% of Americans do not feel that they are well prepared for natural or man-made disasters, and only three out of ten Americans have an emergency preparedness plan.

The survey is aimed at gauging how natural and man-made disasters as well as the COVID-19 crisis have impacted Americans’ decisions about emergency preparedness. This is the third consecutive year BELFOR has conducted an independent national survey of homeowners and renters across the U.S. to measure disaster preparedness in recognition of National Preparedness Month in September.

Key findings from the 2020 survey include:

  • Only a third of respondents have been influenced by recent media coverage around COVID-19 to improve their emergency preparedness planning. Less than half of these respondents bought supplies for an emergency kit, created and/or updated their preparedness plan, or reviewed a preparedness plan with their family.
  • 41% of respondents are more aware of cleaning needs within their homes amid the pandemic.
  • Of the 39% of respondents currently working at home due to the pandemic, almost half would be comfortable returning to their office if their employer used a professional cleaning company certified in COVID-19 treatment, versus a janitorial service or having employees themselves clean their workplace.
  • 53% of working respondents think it is important to have an emergency plan at work, but only 40% were familiar with such a plan at their workplace.

“Oftentimes, disasters can strike without warning. But, when the unpredictable occurs, we see local heroes emerge—bringing families to safety and restoring faith in broken communities.  We all have the power to be that hero and it starts with creating a disaster preparedness plan,” said Sheldon Yellen, CEO of BELFOR. “Preparedness saves lives and it lessens damage brought by catastrophes. National Preparedness Month encourages us to prepare for the unexpected and awaken the hero that lives within all of us. We hope these results inspire people, businesses, and communities to rethink their emergency plans and drive national awareness about the importance of being prepared for any type of disaster.”

Building on the results of previous years, the 2020 survey also found that:

  • Nearly half of respondents who have not made a plan say it is because they have never thought about it.
  • Naturally, and as the survey confirms, homeowners’ and renters’ concerns about disasters vary by region—most worrisome are tornados (Midwest and Southwest), home fires (Northeast and Mid-Atlantic), hurricanes (South) and earthquakes (West).
  • More than six in ten respondents have special responsibilities in the event of an emergency, including pets (36%) and individuals requiring extra assistance such as children, elderly, or disabled persons (26%).

“Now more than ever, we’re seeing an increased need for deep cleaning services from home and business owners alike,” said Rusty Amarante, president of BELFOR Franchise Group. “Our network of home-service based franchises will continue to operate around the clock to help residences, businesses, and communities face the challenges presented by weather events, everyday disasters, and the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19.”

BELFOR’s family of brands has played an essential role on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing cleaning and treatment services for residential households as well as businesses and facilities including hospitals and healthcare facilities, first responder departments, cruise ships, schools and universities, sports arenas, assisted living facilities, hotels, and more.

Learn more about BELFOR’s industry-leading, proprietary COVID-19 cleaning and treatment services, and find tips and information on how to prepare your household or workplace for disaster on BELFOR’s website.


Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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