Pensioners are the most likely to have stockpiled items in preparation for a crisis, such as the current coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.
US scientists found households headed up by pensioners are the most likely to have items stockpiled ready for a disaster, such as bottled water, tinned food and a back-up generator.
Researchers analysed survey data from more than 16,000 people in the US, who were asked about their disaster preparedness in 2017.
Subjects were measured on their possession of nine items that indicated a level of preparedness, including emergency kits and food and water stockpiles.
US survey data from 16,000 households were used to identify socioeconomic and other factors associated with ‘disaster preparedness’
They then defined preparedness as meeting at least half of the criteria.
Overall, nearly 70 per cent of people fulfilled the criteria for overall preparedness – but over-65s, men, and families without children in particular planned better for emergencies in terms of emergency kit and food, the study found.
‘Preparedness was measured using nine items included in the disaster preparedness module of the American Housing Survey,’ lead author Dr Lucila M. Zamboni at the University at Albany-State University of New York told MailOnline.
‘We found that households where the head of the household is 65 years and older are more likely to be prepared for resource-based items.
Households where the head of the household is 65 years and older are more likely to be prepared for resource-based items such as bottled water (pictured)
‘I think our most important finding is that households treat preparedness items differently.
‘This is evidenced by the change in direction in the association with different household characteristics.’
The study tested associations of household characteristics – such as socioeconomic status and region – with disaster preparedness.
Out of the more than 16,000 households, two-thirds – 68.9 per cent – met at least half the criteria for preparedness, 53.9 per cent met four, five or six of the recommended items and only 3 per cent met all nine.
Study participants were also measured on their levels of ‘action-based’ preparedness for a disaster versus resource-based.
The elderly could be more guilty of stockpiling toilet paper, as seen during the current epidemic, the study suggests
While ‘resources’ include food stockpiles or a back-up generator, ‘actions’ include finding alternate communication methods and meeting locations.
Action-based items, ‘do not rely on material resources and thus are less likely to have economic limitations for fulfilment,’ than resource-based items researchers say.
But despite this, households were more likely to fulfil at least half of the criteria for resource-based preparedness (10,950 households, or 65.5 per cent) than action (6,876 households, or 41.1 per cent).
Wealthy households and those with heads of household who were aged 65 years or older were most likely to fulfil at least half of resource-based items, but less likely to fulfill recommendations for action-based items.
In other words, they were more likely to stockpile physical items like toilet paper, medical supplies and basic food supplies like flour, but less likely to make contingency plans or plan escape routes in the face of something like a natural disaster that disrupted communications.
Preparedness behaviours also differed by race, the researchers reported.
Households with heads who were black were more likely to fulfil specific resource- and action-based items that were related to emergencies but did not require substantial resources, such as an alternate meeting location or back-up water supplies.
However, they were less likely to have resources that required larger financial investments, such as bigger food stockpiles, electric generators or an evacuation vehicle.
In their study, published in JAMA Open Network, the researchers say that targeted strategies are needed to promote preparedness across communities.
FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD ITEMS TO STOCKPILE IN A PANDEMIC
Extra prescription medications, asthma relief inhalers
Over-the-counter anti-fever and pain medications
Feminine hygiene products
Family pack of toilet paper
Alcohol-containing hand rub
Household cleaning agents and soap
Tissues, paper towel
Cereals, grains, beans, lentils, pasta
Tinned food – fish, vegetables, fruit
Oil, spices and flavours
Dried fruit and nuts
Ultra-heat treated or powdered milk
Soft drink or candy/chocolate for treats
Pet food and care
Source: Virology Down Under by University of Queensland virologists Dr Ian Mackay and Dr Katherine Arden