Ninety Percent of Washington County Residents Are at Least Somewhat Prepared for an Emergency

For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sponsored by: Health and Human Services Department, Public Health Division

Earlier this month when a snowstorm pummeled the region, some Washington County residents may have learned the hard way how important it is to be prepared in case of an emergency. Fortunately, based on data collected by Washington County Public Health last June, most residents were probably at least somewhat prepared.

In June 2016, Washington County Public Health performed a survey of our community to determine residents' needs, attitudes and readiness for an emergency. In collaboration with local community emergency response teams and various government entities, Washington County Public Health trained and deployed more than 60 volunteers around the county to ask residents about how they prepare.

A summary of the assessment results has been posted at www.co.washington.or.us/HHS under "News & Publications."

Some of the key findings:

  • Eighteen (18) percent of county residents are well prepared, which means they have at least a three-day supply of food and water set aside for an emergency, communication and evacuation plans, and at least two out of three of the following: battery-powered radio, flashlight and first aid kit.
  • Ten (10) percent are not prepared, meaning they have no supplies at all.
  • The remaining 72 percent fall somewhere in between. They are somewhat prepared, which means they have some combination of supplies and communication plans but did not meet the criteria for "well prepared."

Drilling down to a few specific preparedness efforts:

  • Forty-two (42) percent have a three-day supply of water.
  • Sixty-two (62) percent have a wind-up or battery-powered radio.
  • Fifty-seven (57) percent have a home evacuation plan.
  • And proving just how much Washington County residents love their pets, 75% have a three-day supply of nonperishable food for themselves, while 79% have a three-day food supply for their furry family members.

Washington County Public Health officials have identified the following findings as priorities, as they demonstrate either important disparities or opportunities for focused outreach. "We hope that community partners and organizations will use this information to prioritize and collaborate on emergency preparedness efforts," says Public Health Emergency Preparedness Supervisor Sue Mohnkern. 

  • Two of five of Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian households have a wind-up or battery-powered radio versus two of three white households.
  • More than one of three Hispanic/Latino households do not know about carbon monoxide dangers and detectors versus one in ten non-Hispanic/Latino households.
  • Nearly twice as many homeowners (21 percent) are well prepared versus renters (12 percent).
  • One in eight residents would have difficulty evacuating due to a disability or use of special medical equipment.
  • Five of six residents plan to take their pets with them when evacuating.

"Prior to this survey, there really weren't any data on emergency preparedness for Washington County residents," says Public Health Epidemiology Program Supervisor Kim Repp. "This assessment provided the information we need to identify vulnerabilities throughout the county and will hopefully help the community come together to get better prepared."

Residents are encouraged to take stock of their own preparedness. Helpful resources are available at www.ready.gov and www.take5tosurvive.com.

Media Contact:

Wendy Gordon, Communications Coordinator/PIO
503-846-3634
wendy_gordon@co.washington.or.us