Last week's wind storms that claimed 15 lives prompted Gov. Nathan Deal to call for a study of the government's weather-warning systems, like sirens. But the survey shows people could do more to prepare themselves and their families.
Their reasons for not being prepared range from never having experienced a disaster in their area and believing one will never strike to not knowing what supplies to get. More than 80 percent said they recognized the need for personal preparation even if they weren't fully prepared themselves.
However, 10 percent felt "nothing I do to prepare will help me handle the situation," and another 7 percent said they could handle anything without preparation.
The poll was conducted for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to gauge the impact of its Ready Georgia campaign.
GEMA has commissioned an annual survey since 2007. This year's was conducted of 300 people in January, a few weeks after a record-setting snowstorm. It has a margin of error of 5.7 percent.
Those describing themselves as fully prepared declined from 22 percent in last year's poll -- conducted shortly after the Haiti earthquake -- while the portion of those claiming to be somewhat prepared has steadily climbed from 43 percent in 2007 to 51 percent this year.
"What we're fighting against is inaction," said Lisa Janak, coordinator of GEMA's Ready Georgia campaign.
The campaign seeks to nudge people to make an evacuation plan, buy a radio that plays an alarm during weather alerts, and assemble a "ready kit." The kit should contain food and water for three days, a flashlight, vital documents, face masks for everyone and other items.
The face mask, for example, would protect against a chemical or gas leak.
"Do you know the No. 1 hazard in Savannah is not hurricanes. It's hazardous waste," Janak said.
Although Georgia is prone to a range of nature's fury, including earthquakes, GEMA is tasked to respond to man-made catastrophes like a nuclear accident or terrorist attack. Yet, it is most visible after floods and tornadoes, leaving people to not worry too much about the range of dangers they don't see.
"Every year we're without a storm, you kind of worry about complacency," said Leslie Henderson, president of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, which conducts a national readiness campaign.