AARP survey: Fewer residents aged 45+ have emergency plans, more want to shelter in place

Jeff jOHNSON informal tight ART
'This warning cannot wait. We urge Floridians to get their emergency plans in place now,' AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said.

Noting a recent survey that gauged storm readiness of older Floridians, AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson is urging people to update their plans as Hurricane Ian barrels toward Florida.

A recently released survey of residents aged 45 and up shows 67% reported having an updated emergency preparedness plan for 2022, down from 75% of respondents who reported having plans in 2019.

Commissioned over the summer, the AARP Vital Voice Survey also shows 61% of the 2022 survey respondents said they will shelter in place, compared to 55% of survey respondents in 2019. The increase in respondents wanting to shelter in place could be attributable to COVID-19, according to the AARP.

Johnson encouraged residents to go to the AARP Florida website to get downloadable checklists, as well as advice on avoiding scams and the importance of assignment of benefits when looking to repair hurricane-damaged homes and other homeowner insurance considerations.  

“As Floridians, we know it only takes one storm to drastically change lives forever. Proper preparedness and a disaster plan can minimize damage to your property and ensure your family’s safety. AARP Florida offers a robust collection of resources designed for older adults and their families to get prepared, so they will be ready when disaster strikes,” he said announcing the website.

The findings stem from the AARP Vital Voice Survey, conducted every three years. The 2022 survey included interviews with 1,005 Florida residents ages 45 and older between July 11, 2022, and August 3, 2022. AARP expedited the survey results regarding preparedness for natural disasters given the threat from Hurricane Ian.

“While we intended to release this survey’s results later in the fall, this warning cannot wait. We urge Floridians to get their emergency plans in place now,” Johnson said.

The survey comes four years after the last major landfall of a hurricane in Florida. Since then, there has been a steady stream of newcomers to the state who may be unfamiliar with the dangers posed by hurricanes.

The survey shows the decline in preparedness is most prominent among homeowners, with just 55% of homeowner respondents reporting having an updated plan in 2022, compared to 71% who reported the same in 2019.

Preparedness also dropped in the three years since the survey was last conducted for respondents in households with incomes of less than $50,000 (71% to 59%) and for respondents reporting having a plan between the ages of 45 and 49 (74% to 58%).

According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Ian is forecasted to rapidly strengthen as it moves across Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico.

As of 11 a.m. Monday, Hurricane Ian was centered about 100 miles west of Grand Cayman and 240 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Cuban provinces of La Habana Mayabeque and Matanzas; the Dry Tortugas; and the lower Florida Keys from the Seven Mile Bridge westward to Key West. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.

A hurricane watch is in effect for Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay. A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.  A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds.

A storm surge watch is in effect for the Florida Keys from the Card Sound Bridge westward to Key West; the Dry Tortugas; Florida Bay; Anclote River southward to the Card Sound Bridge; and Tampa Bay. A storm surge watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline within the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1 and ends November 30.

For those who prefer to receive their information visually, AARP Florida also has produced Florida preparedness videos and generator safety videos.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


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