Tag Archives: disasters

The Most Common Natural Disaster in the United States


It may surprise you that floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States.   This is followed by tornadoes and fires.  Based on the frequency of Presidential Declarations, floods and severe storms account for more than 50% of the disasters in all subregions of the United States.  In other words, no region in the U.S. is exempt from flooding.

According to FEMA the following are the most frequent causes of flooding:

  1. Tropical Storms & Hurricanes
  2. Spring Thaws
  3. Heavy Rain
  4. Fire-Stricken Hills (combined with moderate rain)
  5. Levees & Dams
  6. Flash Floods
  7. New Urban Developments (combined with moderate rain)


Flood Preparation

So what can you do to prepare for a flood?

  1. Get an Emergency Kit
    Make sure you have the basics in a ready-to-go kit.
  2. Make a Plan
    Consider evacuation routes and an appropriate meeting place for your loved ones.
  3. Stay Informed
    Learn about your local warning systems and pay closer attention to the news during severe storms.  See your current flood risk right now!

As with all disasters…they’re unpredictable.  Planning in advance can do wonders for your comfort and stress levels before, during, and after an emergency.

Water In An Emergency: Water Storage Supply and Survival Ideas

storing-waterDrip. Drip. Drip. Yeah, it’s a sound we all take for granted. Water sustains life. We use it to drink, cook, wash, shower, clean, and more…everyday. In our modern world we simply turn the faucet for instant access.

For my inaugural post, I thought it would be appropriate to address the most vital element of emergency preparedness. In part 1 of 2 posts, we’ll focus on the importance of storing water and rotating a steady supply. In another post, we’ll address water sanitation and filtration.

Long-Term Water Storage

To begin, most experts say you should store 1 gallon of water per person per day.  This is definitely more than needed to survive, but it provides a sufficient amount to be relatively comfortable.  A minimum of 3-days of water per person would be a great start.  For households and small businesses, there are three basic sizes and options for water storage:

  1. SMALL: PET water bottles (the kind soda or liters of water come in)
    This is an entry level approach, but they can be easily stored and transported.  If you store them in an extra freezer, they can be used to keep your refrigerator cool in the event of a power failure.water-storage-tanks
  2. MEDIUM: 5-7 gallon tanks with handles.
    These are just the right size for easy portability and usage.  Anything larger than 7 gallons, will be difficult to move and pour.
  3. LARGE: 50-60 gallon drums and tanks
    These are ideal for long-term storage if you have the space to store them.  Just make sure you have a good pump or know how to siphon water.

Short-Term Water Storage

Thunderstorms and other predictable emergencies allow us enough time to supplement our water storage just hours before.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Fill your bathtub(s)
    This is the easiest to do.  You won’t drink this unless your situation is more extreme, but it can be used to wash and flush toilets.
  2. Fill large buckets, containers and coolers
    Everyone’s situation is different, but most of us have something laying around that can be filled.
  3. Fill trash bags (2 or 3 deep depending on the durability)
    This works well as a backup for step 2.  They can be placed just about anywhere, but keeping them outside would be advisable in case of a leaky bag.

Collecting Water

collecting-waterOf course, eventually you may run out of water storage (or never have it in the first place!).   In this case, you’ll want to be familiar with the closest water sources.  This varies greatly based on location, but here are some ideas:


  1. your hot-water tank
  2. pipes and faucets
  3. ice cubes


  1. rain gutters
  2. rivers, streams, ponds, lakes
  3. natural springs and wells

Be Water Wise

It only takes a few days for the average person to die without water.  Be wise.

Disaster Declarations (coming to a county near you)

FEMA_logoDon’t misunderstand me.  I’m not a pessimist and I don’t foretell the future.  I was simply surprised to see the frequency of Major Disaster Declarations in the U.S. in 2009 as recorded by FEMA.  The list is mostly populated with severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding.  But it also includes fires, mudslides, and even ice jams in Alaska.

FEMA has supplied a fascinating map of the United States, showing all the presidential disaster declarations from 1964-2007.  It shows you the counties that have experienced the most disaster declarations and even breaks down the disasters by type for each of the 10 disaster regions.


This map might make you think twice about where you live.  But hopefully it encourages us all to be a little more prepared for when that next disaster strikes.

California Earthquake ShakeOut

According to the USGS, earthquakes are the most costly natural hazard faced by the United States.  Most people associate California with earthquakes, but quake fault lines are scattered all over the states.  This map clearly shows the areas that face the most danger.


However, California is packed with people and lies on some of the most vulnerable faults.  Fortunately, they are preparing well.  On October 15, California will host the Great California ShakeOut to raise awareness on earthquake safety.  This event originated in 2008 and is sponsored by CEMA (California Emergency Management Agency), the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program and many more.  It’s sure to be an informative and timely event.  If you live in California, be sure to register.  If you don’t, you can still learn some valuable tips.

So, are you prepared for the next earthquake?  Take this fun interactive earthquake quiz to test your knowledge.  And don’t forget to have an earthquake kit handy.

Simon Says Prepare, Then Share

Life! It’s wonderful.  Especially when you share it with family.  Like most fathers, I work hard to protect my family.  I pay for life insurance, home insurance, car insurance, health insurance, and so on.  Our whole lives we pay premiums to protect ourselves from an emergency, accident, or disaster.

Fortunately, I’ve learned that the most important insurance a father can have, is the assurance that his family will be fully prepared no matter what happens in the world.  From tornadoes to terrorism, to pandemics and pestilence, you never know what lies ahead in your path.  Each uncertain event presents unique needs for shelter, food, water, safety, communication, and comfort.

All of us take for granted our modern world.  In a time of convenience and comfort, it’s easy to forget how our ancestors struggled to survive.  We’re so wrapped up in our day-to-day lives, we rarely pause to realize how much we really have.  And we forget how easily it can be taken away from us.

And so today, September 11, my family and I have decided it’s time.  Time to share our tips, kits, lists, and more, so you can prepare yourself and your loved ones for the next emergency.  So start today…prepare, and then share it with someone you love.