Skip to Content

Natural Disaster Survival 101: Essential Tips for Staying Safe and Prepared

Natural disasters can strike anywhere at any time of the year, causing you to need to completely change your plans or uproot your life.

In 2022 alone, 421 natural disaster events were reported, and the number of severe natural disasters has increased dramatically over the last four decades due to climate change and human activity.

Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place to learn essential tips for staying safe and prepared during a natural disaster, greatly increasing your chances for natural disaster survival.

Keep reading to learn all about the types of natural disasters, essential tips for preparing before a natural disaster strikes, and what you need to have on hand to stay safe during a natural disaster.

natural disaster survival

Types of Natural Disasters

Floods, Hurricanes, and Tsunamis

Flooding happens in coastal towns after a hurricane or tsunami or in other parts of the world due to heavy rainfalls causing lakes, rivers, and streams to overflow.

Hurricanes occur more commonly in the Atlantic Ocean, and Tsunamis occur more commonly in the Pacific Ocean. However, both storms can occur in either ocean.


Earthquakes occur on fault lines, most commonly along the Circum-Pacific Belt or the Ring of Fire. Around 81 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur along this fault line, which includes Washington State, Oregon, and California.

Tornadoes and Derechos

Tornadoes sweep the middle of the United States every year. Tornado Alley includes much of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa, and sections of Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, Alabama, and Missouri.

Derechos are strong-winded storms that can come with little-to-no warning and are capable of producing as much damage as a tornado. They can produce hurricane-strength winds up to 100 miles per hour.

These storms most commonly occur along the Corn Belt from Iowa and Minnesota through Pennsylvania.


Blizzards occur frequently in the northern part of the country, with Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont experiencing some of the most devastating blizzards in history. However, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota are considered Blizzard Alley.


Wildfires can occur anywhere in the world but most commonly occur in rural areas. In the United States, they most commonly occur in California, Washington, and Oregon.

Dust Storms

Dust storms are one of the eeriest natural disasters that can occur. They can occur anywhere, but they are most common in the Southwest.

Volcanic Eruptions and Avalanches

There are approximately 1,350 active volcanoes in the world (not including the volcanoes on the ocean floor), and 161 of these volcanoes are in the United States. Alaska has the most volcanoes out of any state, totaling 130, with 54 previously being active.

In the western mountains of the United States, 100,000 avalanches occur every year. They most commonly occur in the mountains of Colorado.

natural disaster survival

Preparing for Surviving a Natural Disaster

Preparing for natural disaster survival can save you a lot of anxiety when a natural disaster warning is transmitted, or one unexpectedly comes your way.

The first step to preparing for a natural disaster is to become aware of which ones are most at risk of occurring in your location, then you can begin to build your Natural Disaster Survival Plan.

Buy Natural Disaster Insurance

You should buy Natural Disaster Insurance for every type of common disaster where your home stands. Your homeowners or renters insurance policy agreement should include natural disaster lines.

Even if you are renting from your parents or a close family member, you need to have a rental insurance policy in your name. Insurance companies will only cover items lost in a natural disaster that belong to the policy owner(s).

If you live with roommates, everyone should write up individual rental insurance agreements to guarantee everyone’s possessions are covered in the event of a natural disaster.

Learn CPR and First Aid

Be prepared for natural disaster survival by learning Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and First Aid. Understanding these two skills will save not only your life but also the lives of others.

CPR can save the life of someone who stops breathing. You can double or even triple the chance of the person’s survival by taking action.

First Aid training teaches you how to act in an emergency scenario. You will learn how to respond to specific situations and how to care for those who are injured.

Sign up for CPR and First Aid classes. The Red Cross offers both online and in-person classes, which are listed on their website. They also offer a host of other classes to aid in preparing to help and care for others!

Create a Natural Disaster Survival Plan and Practice It

Creating a natural disaster survival plan and practicing it often is your best chance at natural disaster survival. Schools do regular drills for the natural disasters common in their areas, so why wouldn’t you do the same at home?

Your plan should include everyone in your home, including kids and pets. It should incorporate the four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Practice this plan to lessen the shock and anxiety created when a natural disaster hits, and consider all of the following:

  • Who is responsible for sounding the alarm to everyone about the impending natural disaster?
  • Where will you go, and how will you get there?
  • What will you bring with you?
  • Who is responsible for letting loved ones know you’re safe?
  • Who is responsible for handling potential insurance claims?
natural disaster survival

Creating Your Essentials Kit for Surviving a Natural Disaster

Creating a Natural Disaster Survival Kit is your absolute best chance of natural disaster survival. If you must evacuate in case you get stuck in traffic before you can get to safety, you will want to bring this kit.

Your kit should be stored safely somewhere in your home, and everyone in the family should know its location in the event someone is trapped in the home.

This list provides general suggestions to include in your Natural Disaster Survival Kit. You may also want to include other items, depending on the specific natural disasters you expect to encounter.

1. Emergency Drinking Water

You should have emergency drinking water in your kit. These packets don’t take up much space and have a five-year shelf life. You’re also much less likely to lose these water packets because the individual sachets are easy to store, so you don’t have to worry about them floating away in a flood.

2. First-aid kit

Put together your own first-aid kit, or buy a prepackaged first-aid kit. A first-aid kit should include bandages and antiseptic wipes. The linked prepackaged kit comes with 175 emergency supplies that will tremendously boost your natural disaster survival chance.

This first-aid kit also includes a whistle, which is essential for natural disaster survival so you can alert emergency responders of your whereabouts. It also includes a CPR mask. You should also buy a dust mask (especially if you live in a tornado, earthquake, wildfire, avalanche, volcano, or dust storm zone).

N95 masks are also incredible at protecting from dust, so don’t throw away any you have on hand post-COVID!

3. Flashlight and Headlamp

If you buy the first-aid kit above, you already have a flashlight. If you’re in an area where you expect earthquakes, tornadoes, or anything where you have the possibility of building materials falling on top of you, you should have a rescue helmet (goggles and flashlight included).

Power loss frequently accompanies natural disasters, so you should have a headlamp for navigating in the dark. A battery-operated headlamp is ideal since you may not be able to recharge your headlamp for a long time in many situations.

4. Extra batteries

You need to have extra batteries for your headlamp and any other electronics you may need to use. This battery kit comes with eight rechargeable AAA batteries, twelve rechargeable AA batteries, two C battery adapters, and two D battery adapters.

5. Map

The good news is you can use GPS on your phone even when cellular networks are knocked out. However, you’re going to be trying to preserve your phone’s battery as much as possible if you don’t have access to power.

Even if you know an area well, cities and towns can become unrecognizable after a natural disaster strikes. You may want to have an old-fashioned map (in a waterproof cover) in your kit or a battery-operated GPS device to help you find your way.

natural disaster survival

6. Non-electric can opener

You’re going to want to have a non-electric can opener on hand. If you find traditional can openers tricky, add this easy-to-use battery-operated can opener to your natural disaster survival kit.

7. Sleeping bag

Add a waterproof sleeping bag with an included pillow to your natural disaster kit, just in case. You never know when you might need it.

8. Clothing

survival vest is a clever clothing item to include in your natural disaster survival kit. A survival vest will allow you to pack many of the items in this kit in it, so you can save space.

You should also pack at least one spare outfit, including socks and underwear, in case your outfit gets ruined in the elements.

You should have a fire-proof suit if you live in a wildfire or volcano zone.

9. Food

Pack at least three days’ worth of non-perishable food items, which can include canned goods or freezer-dried items.

10. Emergency Radio

Buying an Emergency Radio serving many purposes can be a huge asset for survival of natural disasters.

This radio serves as a flashlight, a USB charger, and a reading lamp. It also includes FM and AF radio stations. An Emergency Radio may be the only way to stay informed if you lose cellular service.

11. Walkie Talkies

Everybody in your family should have a Walkie Talkie if you get separated. A walkie-talkie may also allow you to connect to another nearby frequency, so you can alert emergency responders of your presence.

Flood Items for Your Natural Survival Kit

If you live in a flood, tsunami, or hurricane zone, these life-saving items are recommended for your kit.

natural disaster survival

12. Inflatable boat and oars

An inflatable boat can seriously be a lifesaver, as seen in the movies if your house is submerged in unlivable conditions. Use an inflatable boat to row yourself to safety. Don’t forget oars!

13. Life Jacket

You might think you’re a good swimmer. However, floods bring unpredictable water conditions that even Olympic swimmers can’t survive. Life jackets for everyone in your family are a must.

Use a Caution with Generators

If you are without power, be sure conditions are safe before using a gas or electric generator. Using a generator around gas or liquids could cause electrocution. You could also cause damage to the generator or your home’s electrical system.

Before you attempt to use a generator after a flood, you must dry it out and clean out any mud or debris. Remove the spark plug, then turn the engine by hand to remove excess water.

Avoid damage to your generator by keeping it off during heavy rain and storing it on a dry, elevated wooden platform.

In any case, it’s best to have an authorized electrician evaluate your generator before turning it on after flooding, where it could have potentially received water damage.

Evacuate When Possible

If you receive a notification from your local or state authorities telling you to evacuate, leaving the natural disaster-affected area is always your guaranteed chance at natural disaster survival.

You may be tempted to stay behind and test out your survival skills. If you decide to stay behind, ensure your survival kit is up-to-date with all the essentials for surviving the natural disaster you’re facing.

natural disaster survival

Wrapping up Natural Disaster Survival

You now know all the tips and tricks needed for natural disaster survival and will be ready if the unthinkable happens. Before you start putting your kit together, make sure to read the 7 most important disaster supplies for the prepared.