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New AT&T Survey Shows Most Atlantic Hurricane Area Residents Are More Prepared Today for a Natural Disaster, but More Than One-Third Admit They Lack Plans to Communicate

With the heart of hurricane season approaching, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) announced that a Gulf Coast regional survey on disaster preparedness revealed that more than 80 percent of Americans living in the region were impacted by last year’s hurricanes. Today, 85 percent say that they have an emergency plan in place. And, while more than half (59 percent) have an emergency communications plan ready, more than a third (39 percent) say they don’t.

AT&T is providing new online tools for planning at www.att.com/vitalconnections.

The study found that 80 percent of those polled agree that it is extremely important to be prepared in the event of a natural disaster, and 56 percent are more prepared for a natural disaster than they were last year. Yet, more than 35 percent of respondents said they are not confident that they will be able to find a way to communicate with friends and family in an emergency.

When asked what technologies they would have at their disposal to use if either a home phone or wireless phone were not accessible during a natural disaster, respondents named voice mailbox as their No. 1 choice (54 percent), followed by wireless phone with instant messaging (44 percent), Wi-Fi access or a wireless Internet connection (38 percent) and prepaid long distance phone cards (38 percent).

When asked what communications tools are essential for respondents to maintain and use in a disaster, the following topped the list: phone numbers for all key contacts (73 percent), car charger for wireless phone (71 percent), noncordless phone to plug in to landline if electricity fails (60 percent) and an extra wireless phone battery (46 percent).

When seeking information and guidance, nearly 90 percent of the respondents cited television and radio as key sources for information. Eighty- five percent listed local, state and federal government officials as sources for how to prepare for a disaster. And more than 55 percent of the respondents cited weather and news organizations.

Additional key findings show that 90 percent of the respondents feel that they are informed about the types of potential disasters that could affect their area and know the appropriate actions to take. More than 60 percent have identified potential shelters for evacuation purposes. And nearly 70 percent said they have practiced their emergency plan.

"When it comes to disaster preparedness, there is no such thing as being too prepared," said Tim Harden, president-Network Services for AT&T’s Southwest region. "The results of our survey indicate, for the most part, that Americans in the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast are prepared for future natural disasters. However, we continue to urge every person to maintain an emergency supply kit, create an emergency communications plan and take the time to sit down with their loved ones at least once a year to discuss what to do in case of an emergency."

The survey also found that accessing online information was the most popular choice (44 percent) among respondents when asked where to research an emergency preparedness plan. To assist consumers in developing a disaster preparedness communications plan, AT&T has created the Web site www.att.com/vitalconnections, which provides a new 10-question assessment tool that gauges a person’s disaster preparedness level, as well as a number of tips. It also provides a handbook and planning resources for businesses.

This survey was sponsored by AT&T to gather insights into how consumers in Atlantic hurricane-affected areas prepare for disasters. The survey was conducted by Western Wats through a telephone poll that took place between Aug. 9 and 14, 2006. Western Wats polled adult consumers (18 years of age and older) in hurricane-affected counties within four states along the Gulf Coast (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas). (The counties selected were those that, according to the Federal Emergency Management Association, received individual and public financial assistance as a result of a severe hurricane in the past decade.) Participants’ results for the AT&T Disaster Preparedness Poll are based on responses from 400 adults who live in these areas. For this sample of 400, the margin of error because of sampling is plus or minus three to five percentage points at a 95 percent confidence interval.

 [August 25, 2006]


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