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Natural disasters can strike seemingly anytime, and often with little warning. Today, the world and specifically the U.S. is facing disaster, after disaster, after disaster. Can we even keep count anymore? It’s time to be prepared and know how to survive a natural disaster — before a truly catastrophic disaster strikes.
Weather Related Disasters
When we think of natural disasters in the USA, the first thing that usually comes to mind is hurricanes. We think back to Hurricane Katrina, or Hurricane Harvey, or the countless other storms that have come in from the shore and caused absolute devastation to people’s homes and livelihoods. So it’s important that each and every one of us (especially those of us who live on or near the coast) knows how to survive a hurricane.
To get through a powerful hurricane, you need to be prepared. Stock up on supplies well in advance – if you’re already hearing about a hurricane on the news, chances are the grocery stores are already being emptied. Instead, if you’re someone who takes survival seriously, you should always have a cache of survival supplies on hand – food, water, medicine, and other essential survival supplies and tools. If the government is urging you to evacuate or warning about the possible necessity of an evacuation, you’d do well to heed their warnings – ultimately, the things you leave behind are just material possessions. Many people are hesitant to evacuate because they worry about their homes and possessions, but it’s important to remember that the only thing that truly can’t be replaced is your life and your health. Don’t jeopardize either by ignoring evacuation warnings. Make sure you know exactly what to do if a hurricane is bearing down on your area – having a hurricane survival checklist is a good place to start.
It seems every year that the number and power of the average hurricane gets more extreme – whether you attribute this to global warming, god’s wrath, or something else is up to you. The point is that devastating hurricanes are becoming more and more common, and it’s getting to the point where it should be something you plan for each year before the hurricane season. Learn some survival tips for the 2019 hurricane season so you’re not caught unprepared when the big one hits.
Along with hurricanes and the storm season comes flooding. While many people might associate heavy flooding with hurricanes, the truth is any kind of storm or heavy rain can lead to flooding. Perhaps you’re not worried about it because you live at elevation, but if you’re anywhere near sea level, with the way things seems to be going, serious flooding is going to become more and more of a problem if you live in a low lying area. Learn how to survive a flood so you can make it through any flooding relatively unscathed.
Most flooding that occurs in the US is not necessarily life threatening even though the effects can be devastating from the perspective of property damage. However, don’t mistake that to mean that floods aren’t dangerous. They absolutely are. If flooding gets serious, it’s not just homes and property that are in danger – floods can be life threatening if they get bad enough. Make sure you know what to do if you’re caught in a catastrophic flood.
One example of a catastrophic flood was the 2011 Mississippi River floods – where 14 people were killed directly by the flood, and 392 others died by other causes also related to the flooding. More than 400 people died – that’s how dangerous floods can be. So it only makes sense to make sure that you’re aware of the dangers of floods and what to do if you’re caught in one. To better prepare yourself, ensure that you’re aware of what survival supplies you need for a flash flood or flood evacuation.
If you’re nowhere near the coast, perhaps you’re less worried about hurricanes and floods, which makes sense. But inland states like Kansas or Missouri carry their own risks. If you don’t live inside of it, perhaps you haven’t heard of Tornado Alley – the (rough) line of states where tornadoes are most common. But everybody should be aware of tornadoes and the dangers they present – because they (more or less) occur spontaneously and can be incredibly dangerous, you should have a plan if you ever encounter one. If you don’t know how to survive a tornado and you run into one, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble. Don’t forget, tornadoes are powerful enough to lift cars up into the air, and even tear houses out of their foundations. This kind of power and danger isn’t something to take lightly. If you’ve read our article tornado survival but you want to learn even more, here are some additional tornado survival tips.
Earthquakes & Tsunamis
Coastal areas have to deal with hurricanes, and states in Tornado Alley know they have to deal with tornadoes. However, relatively few people think about the risks of living an earthquake zone. Every year, we hear about the dangers of hurricanes in the news and in the weather, but we only ever hear about earthquakes when they actually happen. The reason for this is that earthquakes are exceedingly hard to predict – we only know that a quake will happen seconds before it hits, so for all intents and purposes earthquakes are completely unpredictable. There is no ‘earthquake season’ – and for a lot of people that means that it’s something outside of their control, and so they ignore the danger. For smart survivalists like ourselves though, we know that an unpredictable danger isn’t something we ignore, it’s something that we should be prepared for all the time. At their worst, earthquakes are perhaps the most damaging type of natural disaster, with the ability to destroy not just homes but entire towns and cities. If you live anywhere near an earthquake zone, make sure you know how to survive an earthquake so that you’re ready when the big one hits (as it inevitably will one day).
At this point, we’re all aware that earthquakes can also lead to another kind of harrowing natural disaster – the harrowing tsunami. We all remember what happened in Japan in the Fukushima disaster – an earthquake, followed by a gigantic tsunami, followed by the nuclear reactor meltdown. What many people don’t realize is that the real devastation was caused by nature – the meltdown was definitely a tragedy, but the death and dismay caused by mother earth far outstripped the damage done by everything that happened at the plant. More than 15,000 people died in the earthquake and tsunami – and keep in mind this happened in Japan, one of the most developed countries on earth. A similarly powerful tsunami occurring on one of the US coasts would likely do even more damage and kill more people. What will you do if you’re caught on the coast and a tsunami is racing toward shore? Make sure you’re aware of how to survive a tsunami so you don’t get swept away.
With all the talk of hurricanes and tsunamis, you might think it just makes sense to choose to live at elevation. However, living at elevation poses it’s own risks, particularly if you live near snowy mountaintops. This risk carries over to hiking and camping at higher elevations as well as skiing. Avalanches are a very real risk for anyone who’s on a mountain that’s topped with snow. Every year, about 150 people die in avalanches, and most of those who perish do so because they are not fully prepared for the power of an avalanche of snow rushing towards them. If you live or frequent areas where these events are a possibility, make sure you know how to survive an avalanche. If you’re unprepared, you risk facing certain death.
Snow isn’t the only thing that can come rushing down at you from a mountaintop. An even worse situation is when the mountaintop in question is spewing fire and magma. There are 169 volcanoes that are considered active, with many many more that are dormant. Obviously, Hawaii is well known for it’s volcanoes, but did you know that California, Oregon, New Mexico and Alaska also have more than 10 volcanoes each? Volcanic eruptions don’t happen that frequently in the US, and so they’re one of those things that everybody knows about but nobody takes seriously. Almost nobody is prepared for a volcanic eruption – and that means that when it does happen, everybody is going to be caught off guard, and a lot of havoc and chaos is going to take place. Don’t be one of those people – make sure you know what to do and how to act when an eruption happens by learning how to survive a volcano eruption. If you’re unsure about whether or not you live near an active volcano, read up on the ten volcanoes that are most likely to erupt.
The real fear when it comes to volcanic eruptions is the possibility of the Yellowstone supervolcano becoming active and erupting in the near future. Volcanoes are devastating enough, but if a super volcano like the one at Yellowstone erupts, we’re talking about a world-changing event, with effects not entirely dissimilar to a massive nuclear bomb going off. Ash will blot out the sky and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, will die. Scientists estimate that the Yellowstone volcano goes off about ever 740,000 years, and that the last eruption was about 600,000 years ago. You might think that this means that we’re safe from an eruption happening in our lifetimes, but that’s far from the truth. These are only estimates, and the truth is nobody really knows when volcanoes will erupt – the causes of eruptions aren’t dissimilar to the causes of earthquakes, and look how good we are at predicting those (as mentioned early, we can’t predict earthquakes at all). In the grand scheme of things, timing-wise we are coming pretty close to our due date on a supervolcano eruption. If we’re being honest, surviving a supervolcano eruption will prove to be next to impossible for many of us. In order to maximize your chances though, want to learn more about supervolcano eruptions and how to prepare for them. After all, somebody will likely survive, and you can always improve your odds by understanding the risks and making the right preparations.
While we’re talking about fire and ash, we should spend a little bit of time going over wildfires. Every year it seems like wildfires get worst – some people believe that this is due to global warming. Regardless of the cause, wildfires seem to be getting more common, and they’re seemingly also becoming harder to control. You should make sure you know whether or not you live in an area that’s prone to wildfires, and if you are, you should definitely have a set of plans about what to do when one breaks out in your vicinity. Keep an eye on local weather reports and news – when the weather is particularly hot and dry, the risk of wildfires goes up drastically. If you’re caught near a wildfire, chances are it’s already too late for proper preparations – you’ll likely need to evacuate immediately. Make sure you don’t end up in a situation where you’re unprepared – read up on how to survive a wildfire so that you can proceed calmly and assuredly if one ever breaks own near you.
Occasionally, smaller fires will break out – fires that aren’t happening on a massive scale, but that still pose a risk to local residents. This is especially likely if you live near a forested or wooded area (as opposed to a more urban environment. For these situations, learn how to survive a neighborhood wildfire to protect your home and your loved ones.
While we’re on the topic of wildfires, as we mentioned, scientists believe that the increase in the number and intensity of wildfires has something to do with global warming. Whether or not you agree, what cannot be denied is the increasing amount of strange or unusual weather patterns that we’ve all been experiencing lately. More frequent hurricanes, tornadoes in unexpected regions, cold snaps and heat waves – you probably know exactly what we’re referring to. Read up on the strange weather that’s been happening, not just in the US but all around the world.
We haven’t yet discussed what might be the most dangerous and deadly natural disaster of all – disease. Whether or not it falls under the category of a ‘natural disaster’ is debatable, but what isn’t debatable is the devastating effect that disease can have on the world. After all, you only need to go back about a hundred years to examine the world-altering effect that the Spanish Flu of 1918 had. Up to The Spanish Flu infected 500 million people, and 50 million people died – estimates put that number at about 3-5% of the human population at the time. In today’s world, when there are even more people and we live in much closer vicinity to each other, who knows how many people a global epidemic would kill.
If you’re still not convinced about the risk of an infectious disease ravaging the planet, just think of the plague. Everybody’s heard of the plague an event that’s as well known as either of the World Wars. There’s a reason for that – a true global plague could end up being as devastating (or more devastating) than either of the World Wars. That’s the power of infectious diseases – because they spread from person to person, they can run through humanity like a hot knife through butter.
There are concrete steps that you can take to protect yourself from pandemic and epidemics like the plague or the Spanish flu. The most likely source of the next global health crisis is some sort of pandemic flu. If you make preparations now and understand how to survive a pandemic flu, you just might make it through. One candidate that many scientists and doctors fear may be the next ‘plague’ is avian flu, or bird flu. Because birds can fly long distances, the worry is that even quarantines and international travel bans won’t be enough to contain a powerful strain of avian flu if the strain can be transmitted both bird-to-human and human-to-human. Learn more about bird flu so you’re aware of what the outlook is with what is likely the next great health epidemic.
Collisions from Space
While a global epidemic might hit us out of nowhere, that’s just a metaphor. There are also objects out there that could hit us out of nowhere literally – and when I say ‘us’ I mean the earth. Asteroid or comet collisions have changed the world before and they will change the world again in the future – don’t forget that it was an asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs, eventually paving the way for us humans to thrive. You might think that things hitting the earth from outer space is rare, but actually the earth is hit with 6500 meteors per year (and that’s only counting those that are actually large enough to hit the earth after burning through the atmosphere).
Granted, very large objects hitting earth aren’t common, but that doesn’t mean that they will never happen. In fact, just a couple of years ago, scientists and astronomers all around the world were very concerned about a potential extinction-level asteroid collision in 2036. It’s now confirmed that the 2036 collision won’t occur, but there is still a chance that the same asteroid will strike us in 2068. In any case, the point is that an asteroid or comet hitting the earth could quite literally wipe humanity off the face off the planet. Be prepared – make sure you know how to survive an asteroid collision (or a comet collision).
With the rise in extreme weather patterns and natural disasters, you should start asking yourself whether or not you’re prepared to lose everything. If not, it may make sense for you to look into some kind of disaster insurance. While we don’t trust insurance companies as far as we can throw them, in many cases, some kind of insurance is a good way to partially protect yourself from catastrophic loss of property in the event of a devastating disaster.
Finally, if we haven’t convinced you yet of the potential dangers of the many different kinds of devastating natural disasters, this will do the job. Read about the 10 deadliest natural disasters in history if you want to better understand the potential scale of the death and destruction that we’re urging you to start preparing for.