US government programs and communications regarding citizen preparedness for disasters rest on several untested, and therefore unverified, assumptions. We explore the assumptions related to citizen preparedness promotion and argue that in spite of extensive messaging about the importance of citizen preparedness and countless household surveys purporting to track the preparedness activities of individuals and households, the role individual Americans are being asked to play is largely based on conventional wisdom. Recommendations for conceptualizing and measuring citizen preparedness are discussed.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2012;6:170–173)