WASHINGTON (AP) _ With the Atlantic hurricane season opening Friday, just 58 percent of Americans living in the most vulnerable states say they are concerned about the danger, a Red Cross poll shows.

Only 52 percent of coastal residents in the states from North Carolina to Texas report having an evacuation plan.

``Our greatest concern is that people have evidently been lulled into a false sense of security because the United States was spared from a major hurricane last year,'' said John Clizbe, American Red Cross disaster services vice president. ``The dangers of hurricanes are real, and it is imperative that people at risk be prepared.''

Government hurricane experts expect five to seven hurricanes to threaten the East and Gulf coasts this year, and have urged coastal residents to be prepared.

But the Red Cross found that in the southern coastal states, just 53 percent of residents reported having a hurricane supply kit.

About two-thirds of the respondents said they had been in a hurricane before.

To the north, from Virginia to Maine, where tropical storms are less common, residents were even less ready.

Just 35 percent said they were concerned about hurricanes, 33 percent had an escape plan and 23 percent had an emergency kit. Only 43 percent had experienced a hurricane.

The poll was based on 500 respondents contacted by random calls in May to residents of 177 coastal counties along the East and Gulf coasts. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

On the positive side, the Red Cross said coastal residents who have made preparations have taken the issue seriously. Of those households with an evacuation plan, 80 percent included their children in the planning process and 64 percent have made evacuation arrangements for their pets.


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