How to Survive a Natural Disaster – 2020 Guide to Get Out Alive

| Last Updated: March 28, 2021

We see this time and time again, almost too regularly, that some natural disaster has wiped out another small town or village across the ocean. Is there any way to survive this madness?? Whether it’s earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes or wildfires it seems that God has a point He’s been trying to make with us.

There is a way to survive and thrive through these disasters. And rest assured we’re going to go into the deep end to get you the actionable information you need to make informed decisions of how to prepare for disasters and be a survivor in the end!

Pick a Direction (Which Disaster is Most Likely for You)

It would be incredible if you had the most tsunami, flood and arctic proof place ever! Your house up on pier and beams to avoid high water, reinforced glass to make sure the force of the water doesn’t crash your windows, and you even have inflatable rafts and life preservers in every room just in case…There’s only one problem. YOU LIVE IN ARIZONA!! Come on now.

In order to be most effective you need to direct your energy and resources to what will benefit you most in your situation, So figure out which natural disaster is most likely for your situation, and if you’re new to a location you can consult the locals.

But we can go over some basics just to give you an overview of which natural disasters are most common in these areas.

Where Are Tornadoes Most Common?

Having grown up in “Tornado Alley” I (Admin-Cory Thomas) can tell you that Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas are the most likely states to experience a tornado. And of the forces of nature I’ve encountered, a tornado is the most fierce and unpredictable. It’s worth spending some extra time preparing for if you live in one of these states.

Tornadoes do occur in other states, but as we said earlier this part is just an overview.

Where Are Floods Most Common?

This one can be tricky, because it depends if you’re asking about flash floods or rising water floods. Let’s start with flash floods. These used to be restricted to more wet or mountainous areas such as Arizona, Tennessee, and Louisiana; however, near 2014 the trend seems to be moving Eastward.

We have a map here to help you out.

Now as for standing water floods you’re most dangerous areas are along the coast, as these areas get the heaviest rainfall year round, And if you ask someone who’s been in a real flood they’ll tell you it’s not the water that comes down in a few hours that hurts you, it’s when it comes down for DAYS. And that’s most common along the coast.

Where Are Earthquakes Most Common?

I’m sure that most people who’ve grown up in the United States can guess that California has the most earthquakes. And will possibly lead to Cali breaking off and floating away (but that’s a subject for another time).

And here’s another Map to illustrate the fault lines in the US

These are the main concerns when it comes to natural disasters. There are others like wildfires, and blizzards, but odds are you know which climate those are most popular in, right?

Preparation for Specific Disasters

After you’ve identified which disasters are most common in your area you can start making preparations for the disasters. Again you want to make sure you’ve established which disasters it makes sense to prep your home for. So if you’ve skipped down to this section make sure you go back and find out which disasters are the ones you should focus on.

No sense in wasting money.

How to Prep for Floods & Flash Floods

Flooding is something that most people should give some consideration to. Having been in Louisiana for last 8 years and in a home that’s outside of flood zones, we experienced a significant amount of rainfall late 2015 and the red river was right outside our door! So give this some consideration please!

The survivalistblog has a great article on this that’s extremely helpful, and some information was pulled from their site to help with floods & earthquakes, thanks M.D.!

First of all you want to elevate any electrical units above what you think is safe, this includes but is not limited to: breaker boxes, water heaters, and electrical panels. Short-circuiting these could result in significant damage to the home and electrocute whoever’s close. So make sure all electronics in general are off the floor.

From personal experience it’s a great idea to have sandbags at home in storage of some kind, especially if you know your home was built in a flood zone. These sand bags can literally save your home by giving you an extra foot or two.

Next you want to have an evacuation plan in place, and what’s more you want to practice it once or twice every year to make sure it’s still reliable. You want to have a route that can lead you to higher ground and other family members if possible (this is more for morale than anything). You need to have a go bag for flood situations of some kind as well for when you get into a hairy situation and need to ditch the car. This go bag needs to have food and water just in case you’re not able to make it to the destination safely.

In the case of flash floods, the best preparation is to get out before the water comes. The reason they call it a flash flood is because it happens pretty quick and doesn’t give you much time to react. So take warnings seriously when you know flash floods are a serious issue in your area. In this instance it makes sense to follow the practice of having an evacuation route as well.

How to Prep for Tornadoes

There’s not much that can be done to your home that a tornado won’t quickly undo. The best precautions to take for tornadoes is to bolt everything to the ground that you don’t want to fly away. Storm shelters are also a great idea, but might not be an option for everyone.

If purchasing storm shelters is an option, be sure to check out Lake Martin Safe Rooms’s advice on tornadoes is about as basic as it gets, but all the information is applicable and highly effective if used correctly. They suggest building or buying an emergency kit specifically for tornadoes, also to have a communications and evacuation plan that all family members are aware of for when a tornado strikes. This way you’ll all be safe and able to reconnect with ease.

Indicative Signs of Tornado Weather

  • Dark Greenish Skies
  • Large Hail
  • Low Hanging Clouds That Are Circulating

How to Prep for Earthquakes

Earthquakes are the natural disaster that is almost impossible to predict, making them the most dangerous. Which is why it’s a great idea to have preps in place to ensure yours and your families safety when one of these strike.

Now you should be reading this section if you’re a resident of an area that is prone to earthquakes, or you just have a sneaking suspicion that there’s one destined for your area soon. Either way you need to first make sure that you have a way to secure objects to the ground and ensure that things won’t fall on you from above. Most fatalities and injuries during an earthquake don’t come from falling into the earth straight into hell, but from what’s above. So make sure that’s locked down!

Also to protect your home or business you need to secure electrical units like air conditioners, water heaters and other generators you might have. This is fairly easy to do yourself and could save you from having to purchase all new units later.

Fire is another hazard during earthquakes. No not because hell is rising and Lucifer is shooting flaming arrows… But because when gas lines break due to an earthquake it’s nothing to set them off and ignite an entire neighborhood. So reinforcing the lines now could save you that danger later. Also, going back to the objects being secured, you need to make sure pressurized cans and chemicals aren’t kept above. Should those fall and rupture they could cause an explosion.

How to Handle Natural Disasters in the Moment

This has all been fun yack yack until now.

It’s one thing to buy the items and give yourself a false sense of security thinking you’re prepared, but once it comes time for you to lay out the sandbags or evacuate your family do you think you’re going to know how to respond in these moments? If not we’re here for you, and if you do then read along and offer advice to those struggling in the comments.

How to Survive During a Tornado

If you’re in your home or office when a tornado strikes you need to make your way to the lowest accessible point. Whether it’s a storm cellar or the first floor of a 3 story building you need to get there. If you’re at the lowest point you best option is to move to the center of the room to avoid windows, doors, and outside walls that could collapse. Do not open windows.

If you have the option, you need to change into sturdy shoes!

If you’re out in the open or in a manufactured home or office, drive to the the nearest sturdy shelter or building. If your car is hit by debris and the tornado is close DO NOT GET UNDER AN OVERPASS, this is a myth that has lead to the death of many. Instead get to a ditch or area that is lower than the majority of land.

Do not try to outrun a tornado or out drive it! Even the movie Twister illustrated this was a bad idea.

How to Survive During a Flood and Flash Flood

A flood may seem calm and non invasive, it’s just water after all, right? But there are some things you should know about the best ways to stay safe during a flood.

First of all is knowing that it takes only 6 inches of moving water to bring you down if your walking, and since a large portion of people have never swam in a flood you could be in trouble if it moves you to deeper water. Also it takes just 2 feet of water to life your car or truck and sweep it away. So even if it’s not submerged and your lift kit has kept your engine safe it could still pick you up and move you elsewhere!

It’s important to remember also that it’s not just that the water is flowing that makes flood waters dangerous, but it’s being aware of what’s flowing in the water. There’s very likely debris in the water that you can’t see, and should you risk walking or driving in flood water, you’re doing so at your own risk of bodily harm/ death.

With flash floods this danger is much more apparent. Waters can rise as quickly as one foot per hour in some situations. Which again means that it’s likely carrying some debris in the water that could bring you or your car to a halt and under water.

So the best way to survive a flood or flash flood is to get to higher ground before the water becomes dangerous

How to Survive During an Earthquake

Since most of us on this site are 9-5 preppers (working a day job while preparing yourselves and your families), odds are that you spend 60% of your day indoors in an office. So if you’re in your office during an earthquake the main thing to focus on is not running,. It sounds counterintuitive to staying alive in a building during an earthquake, but you’re less likely to fall and hurt yourself when the ground is not moving, so just wait it out.

If you’re in a building the best thing is to immediately drop to the ground so that you’re not thrown down by the earthquake. You’ll want to move away from anything that could fall on you like shelves and light fixtures. Also if you’re not on the lowest floor when the quake hits you’ll want to make your way down as soon as the worst is over.

If you’re in a moving vehicle when you feel the shaking you’ll want to stop immediately; however, you’ll want to avoid parking under buildings, electrical wires or overpasses. Work your way out of the car and to an open area as safely as possible.

And if you’re already outside when you feel the shaking the same rules apply, you’ll wan tot move away from large buildings or overpasses, and get in as open of an area as possible to prevent injury. If you are in an open field when one of these happens then it’s just a form of entertainment, unless the ground liquefies and your sucked into hades, but that shouldn’t happen…too often…

What to Do After a Natural Disaster

Ok so you’ve made it through the worst of whatever nature’s thrown at you, now it’s time to asses the damage and reclaim what’s left of your life with your family. And one thing to bear in mind in these situations is that your family is the most important thing, you can rebuild a house, buy a new car, and even move if you have to, but family is what’s most important. Never forget that, and cherish those around you who’ve survived with you through this!

What to Do After a Tornado Passes

Now tornadoes like many other forces of nature aren’t predictable at all, so when you think it’s passed and it’s safe to leave shelter, go ahead and wait 5 minutes to ensure it doesn’t turn around or produce another tornado.

Once you come out of hiding you’ll want to find the thickest pair of shoes possible as the tornado has strewn debris everywhere and made walking a real hazard. On top of that you’ll want to avoid any structures that are left standing, the tornado could have damaged the stability of most structures and left them as hair-triggers for another disaster.

So do your best to avoid buildings and debris after a tornado.

What to Do After a Flood

Floods don’t really have a “post” era that is definite, usually you want to wait for authorities to tell you when it’s safe to return. Again speaking from experience, you’ll want to take their advice and not brave roads that haven’t been tested yet, as flood waters erode the roads themselves and the ground the road was built on.

So as your driving after a heavy flood, the pressure from your car on the road could cause it to crumble if it’s not been checked out.

Also debris in the water that you can’t see is a big hazard. If you’re walking/wading through flood waters you’ll want to have what seems like excessive foot protection on. Should you find a nail with your foot you’ll be very glad you did!

Avoid populated areas that still have standing water as power lines that are downed could be in the water and electrocute you. It’s best to come back a full week after they say it’s safe to return, this gives the crazies time to test the limits and find what’s wrong before you do. Never be too eager to rush back and resume life as normal because what just happened was NOT normal.

What to Do After an Earthquake

The rules are very similar to life after a tornado, things will be very unstable and it’s best to avoid structures that haven’t been approved for re-entry. There are also after shocks that come with the initial earthquake, so when you think it’s over you’ll want to wait a few minutes before hustling about.

Monitor local news and radio stations to learn where the worst of the damage is and which areas to avoid. If the damage is bad enough, and it’s possible, you would want to get out of the city for a while and stay with family.

If you’re trapped after an earthquake do not move around too much or kick up dust, everything is still unstable and you could accidentally cause your own death by seeking rescue. Your best bet is to whistle, tap on pipes and walls when you hear rescuers close to you.

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