Facing Disaster, Americans Would Look to MacGyver for Help, Survey Finds

CHICAGO , Sept. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- If a hurricane, flood or other disaster struck your community and government services were overburdened, what if a movie or TV hero could come to the rescue? A new McCormick Tribune Foundation disaster...


CHICAGO , Sept. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- If a hurricane, flood or other disaster struck your community and government services were overburdened, what if a movie or TV hero could come to the rescue?

A new McCormick Tribune Foundation disaster preparedness poll finds more than one in four Americans facing a disaster would most like the fictional help of resourcefully cunning action television hero MacGyver, played by Richard Dean Anderson of the self-titled ABC-TV series. The survey takes a lighthearted approach in order to draw attention to a serious subject -- the need for Americans to become better prepared for disasters.

Recent catastrophic events have shown that essential government services may be disrupted for some period of time and first responders may be overwhelmed.

"While we would want help from MacGyver or any fictional hero during an emergency situation, the reality is we need to be prepared," said Brigadier General (Ret.) David L. Grange, president and CEO of the McCormick Tribune Foundation. "By being prepared, individuals and communities can handle the initial 72 hours after a disaster and may serve as temporary alternatives to government resources."

Legendary for escaping tough situations by improvising with readily available materials, MacGyver was Americans' top choice (27 percent) for fictional help in an emergency. MacGyver beat out movie character Indiana Jones (16 percent) played by Harrison Ford , and John McClane (14 percent) played by Bruce Willis in the "Die Hard" movies. Others heroes receiving votes include:

The McCormick Tribune Foundation is urging Americans to create their own disaster response plans and assemble emergency kits with essentials like a three-day supply of water and nonperishable food, a flashlight and radio, extra batteries, a blanket, a first-aid kit and cash. Information on how to prepare your family, workplace or community for a disaster can be found at http://www.mccormicktribune.org, as well as from the American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org) and from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (http://www.ready.gov).

Chicago-area residents can attend an Emergency Preparedness Weekend event at Cantigny Park (http://www.cantigny.org) in Wheaton, Ill., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 15 and 16. The first 500 families in attendance each day will receive a free starter emergency kit, containing a shake-to-charge flashlight, a silver insulated blanket, water purification tablets and a utility bucket. Walgreens, American Red Cross, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Central DuPage Hospital and others will also participate, providing information about preparing for an emergency. CPR training, fire safety and escape route planning assistance and pet care discussions will be included, as well.

About six out of 10 Americans surveyed (61 percent) said they have set aside a flashlight, portable radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, water and several days of non perishable food. However, given just 30 minutes to gather belongings before evacuating their homes, just 6 percent of people said they would take their emergency kit.

Respondents did say they would make sure to take their legal documents (35 percent), and photographs (29 percent). Just 11 percent said they would take food and only 8 percent would bring water. Although potentially critical to their health, only 4 percent said they would bring their medicines, the same percentage who said they would bring a gun or other weapon. The Bible was an essential emergency item for 3 percent of respondents.

More than one-third (37 percent) of those surveyed said it's "very likely" they will face a disaster -- either natural or manmade -- within the next decade, and two-thirds think it is at least somewhat likely. Americans said the most likely disaster to strike their community would be a tornado (24 percent), followed by a hurricane (18 percent), flood (12 percent) or earthquake (10 percent). Only 6 percent of Americans listed a terrorist attack as the most likely type of catastrophe to affect their community in the next 10 years, while just 4 percent mentioned a disease epidemic such as bird flu, or a toxic or chemical leak or explosion.

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