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Northwestern Residents Believe a Major Earthquake is on the Way, Yet Most Feel Unprepared
[September 21, 2022]

Northwestern Residents Believe a Major Earthquake is on the Way, Yet Most Feel Unprepared


If you live in the Pacific Northwest, chances are you've practiced the "drop, cover and hold" drill numerous times in anticipation of a major earthquake predicted for the region. According to a recent poll by PEMCO Mutual Insurance, three out of four Seattle and Portland residents believe that "the big one" will do substantial damage to their communities during their lifetime. Yet the poll found that nearly half say they feel unprepared for a natural disaster, which is an increase in underprepared respondents since the last time the Seattle-based insurer asked residents in 2015.

The PEMCO Poll confirmed that 74% of respondents agree that a major quake will rattle the region in their lifetime. Among them, those over 35 are most certain, with 80% reporting that they think it's at least somewhat likely that a serious earthquake will threaten people and property around the Northwest.

But even as the threat of a seismic disaster looms for most, 48% of Northwest residents say they aren't prepared to handle a disaster like a major earthquake.

When comparing the most recent findings to results of the same survey in 2015, Portland residents in particular feel less prepared for a natural disaster today than they were seven years ago. In 2022, 53% of those in Portland said they don't feel prepared for a natural disaster, while 43% felt the same in 2015.

"As a Pacific Northwest native, the threat of a devastating earthquake in our community isn't a novel idea," said PEMCO spokesperson Allison Leep. "That's why it was surprising to see that such a significant number of community members can do more to feel prepared for an inevitable natural disaster. Luckily, there are simple ways residents can take action. For example, at PEMCO we consistently urge families to start by holding a yearly conversation about disaster preparedness."

Though most Pacific Northwesterners may not feel fully prepared for a natural disaster, over half (54%) of the families in Seattle and Portland reported having an emergency kit with basic survival items. Of them, the vast majority (80%) say they assembled them themselves. Interestingly, though they report feeling less prepared, more Portland residents today say they have emergency kits, compared to 2015 (52% today vs. 44% in 2015).

But when it comes toother steps residents can take to prepare, only about one in three families (36%) have established a meeting place with their loved ones should a disaster occur. And, while two out of three individuals (67%) say they're confident they could locate valuable possessions and keepsakes in the event of a sudden emergency, only one in five (20%) say they've actually given it any thought in advance.



To be better prepared for a natural disaster, be sure to assemble a basic disaster supplies kit. Store items in airtight plastic bags and put the entire kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers.

A basic emergency supply kit should include the following items:


  • Water
  • Food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio
  • Flashlight
  • First-aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle
  • Dust mask
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape for makeshift shelters
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties
  • A wrench or pliers
  • A manual can opener
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

For a comprehensive list and instructions on assembling your own basic disaster supplies kit, visit www.ready.gov/kit.

PEMCO urges households to take precautions to reinforce the security of their home during an earthquake. For more information on making your home safer, visit www.pemco.com/blog/ways-to-make-your-home-safer-for-an-earthquake.

For a complete summary of PEMCO's proprietary poll results visit www.pemco.com/blog/nw-polls, where you'll find responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in July 2022.

About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Mutual Insurance commissioned this independent survey, conducted by FBK Research of Seattle, that asked Washington and Oregon residents questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 481 respondents in the Seattle Metro (King, Snohomish, Pierce Counties) region and 399 respondents in the Portland Metro (Multnomah, Marion, Clackamas, Washington Counties) region yields an accuracy of +/- 5.0% respectively at the 95% confidence level. In other words, if this study were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than the associated error range.

About PEMCO Mutual Insurance

PEMCO Mutual Insurance is the Defender of Your Northwest, providing auto, home, renters and boat coverage. We are consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee expertise and social impact. Our Mutual Good programs raise the achievement levels for youth in education; build stronger, greener environments; and increase safety at home, on the road and at play. Our mission: Free our communities to worry less and live more. To learn more, visit www.pemco.com.


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