04/03/2011 04:49 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Americans Unprepared for Any Disaster

CNN, March 25: "Most Americans who live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant aren't prepared for a nuclear emergency and don't think the police, hospitals and other emergency services in their community are prepared either, according to a new national poll."

That's just typical: Every time a disaster occurs someplace, a survey shows that Average Americans are embarrassingly unprepared for the same disaster to happen to them. The crisis at the Japanese nuclear power plants is the latest in a series of catastrophes that have exposed our insufficient planning and panicking. For example:

  • Six years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated New Orleans, an ABC News poll finds that most Americans are not prepared for a hurricane that sets off a flood that reaches their ceilings and wipes out their towns. What's more, the poll revealed that average Americans still keep important things -- like food, furniture and hamsters -- in their homes and have not practiced escape routes to their roofs.
  • Ninety-eight months after the space shuttle Columbia disaster, The Washington Post has discovered that most Americans still haven't thought about what to do if the space shuttle they are riding in disintegrates on re-entry into the atmosphere. Safety experts say the most vulnerable group of all is babies, whose parents haven't gotten around to buying rear-facing shuttle seats.
  • With the 82nd anniversary of Black Tuesday less than seven months away, a new survey finds that the average American has nowhere near enough cash saved up to make it through another Great Depression. What's more, the study by the Harvard School of Business exposed that most Americans haven't saved enough for their children's college, for a prolonged and painful fatal illness that drains the family of its financial and emotional resources, or for a new set of tires.
  • A mere 31 years after the eruption of Mount St. Helens killed 57 people and created a new tourist attraction, a groundbreaking CBS polls finds that the vast majority of Americans cannot find their volcano evacuation plans. This carelessness is especially widespread among those who live more than 300 miles from a volcano.
  • As the first anniversary of the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster in West Virginia approaches, a new poll by NBC finds that most American families have still not practiced how to survive if trapped thousands of feet underground with no oxygen tanks. Residents of beach communities are particularly ignorant, confessing that "we seem to think it can't happen to us as long as we stay above ground."
  • Just 73 years after Orson Wells' radio rendition of "War of the Worlds" sent much of the nation into a panic over a nonexistent alien invasion, an investigation by Fox News showed that Americans have done squat to arm themselves for an alien invasion. This whistling-through-the-graveyard mentality cuts across all demographic groups, except for people who forgot their meds again.
  • As the Earth celebrates the 65 millionth anniversary of when an asteroid smacked into it and obliterated the dinosaurs, very few people have mapped out where they would go if another asteroid wiped out life as we know it, according to a new poll by CNN.

Asked about these repeated failures to properly panic and prepare, the average American confessed, "I forgot about the asteroid during the flood because I was building a gamma ray to fight off the aliens that escape from the volcano. Am I safe yet?"