There are many different kinds of disasters that preppers can prepare for in advance because there is usually some kind of warning or sign or way to see it coming. But there are almost as many disasters that can sneak up on you, with little or no warning at all.
No matter how prepared you are, if you don’t prepare for the unexpected, the outcome could be life threatening. We’ve put together a list of these types of events both natural and man-made for you to consider in your planning.
Table of Contents
Unexpected Disastrous Events
1. EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) can occur following a solar flare (CME) or as the result of a man made attack. You most likely won’t see an EMP coming or even know what has happened until power goes out and electronic devices simply stop working.
2. House Fires often happen due to faulty electrical wiring, carelessness, or some other unpredictable cause. There’s no way to predict when or if a house fire might occur.
To prepare for this type of disaster, make sure you install and maintain smoke detectors, have and know how to use a fire extinguisher, and make a fire evacuation plan.
3. Broken Water Pipes brought on by freezing temperatures are one of the disasters that can sneak up on you in most cases. Even when pipes are in good condition and wrapped to insulate against the cold, extreme temperatures or simply corrosion can still cause an unexpected break and flood your home with water.
4. Job Loss In some cases, you can get an idea if your job is in jeopardy due to your own negligence or mistakes. But in the event of a job layoff, company takeover, or company bankruptcy, job loss becomes a disaster that can sneak up on you.
All you can do to combat this is to work to have at least 3-6 months worth of monthly bill payments in your savings to give yourself time to find a new job and get back on your feet.
5. Gas Pipe Explosions are one of those disasters that can sneak up on you. We had a house explode in our neighborhood several years ago. It was about 9pm or so at night and it was storming. Suddenly our house shook so hard I thought sure a tree had hit the roof.
As it turns out, a gas pipe had exploded in a house two streets away from us! That entire home was destroyed and several houses immediately around the home where the explosion occurred were damaged. On my street, two streets away, many of us had knick knacks and photo frames fall off the walls.
6. Home Invasions are yet another type of disaster that can sneak up on you. Unfortunately there’s no way to know in advance when a home invasion might occur since bad guys don’t announce themselves in advance.
This disaster may not impact your neighbors if only your home is targeted by thugs but it can surely spell disaster for you and your family.
7. Death of a Spouse/Child/Parent is one of those disasters that can sneak up on you that no one wants to experience.
The death of a loved one can be a disaster not only emotionally but often financially, if the deceased was the primary breadwinner for the family or if the primary breadwinner is grieving in a way that impacts the monthly income.
8. Chemical Spills are something that no one wants to have happen. On a small scale, chemical spills can cause serious scarring, injury, and even death for those who are exposed.
On a large scale, spills of oil or toxic chemicals such as hexavalent chromium (carcinogen if ingested) are disasters that can sneak up on you.
Serious spills such as the BP Oil Spill or the Flint Michigan water crisis (lead) can start gradually and cause widespread and long-term damage to people and the environment.
9. Civil War is a hot topic in the news right now with many people feeling like we are heading for Civil War 2.0 in the U.S.. You need only research events in areas like Venezuela to get an inkling of how this type of disaster can sneak up on you.
10. Financial Collapse is another type of disaster that can sneak up on you, especially for those who are living paycheck to paycheck. In fact, statistics show that many, many Americans are living just one missed payday from being homeless.
On a widespread scale, financial collapse such as a stock market crash, housing crash, etc. can begin a domino effect with long term repercussions.
11. Blizzards are one of the natural disasters that can sneak up on you with little to no warning.
In some cases, such as the one that hit Northeast Ohio in late January 1978, Dick Goddard had predicted a severe blizzard but the overnight temperatures were 40 degrees and many didn’t believe the prediction. The blizzard did hit and Northeast Ohio was quickly buried in snow, in some cases up to the rooftops.
12. Power Outages don’t present much of a problem when they are short term. But in many cases, extended power outages become one of those disasters that can sneak up on you because they aren’t short lived.
You can prepare for this type of disaster in various ways including stockpiling food, installing or having alternative heating and cooking methods on hand, and keeping flashlights or solar powered lighting in working order.
13. Tsunamis often sneak up on you because they are frequently caused by underwater earthquakes or platonic shifting which isn’t noticeable without monitoring. In addition, Tsunami waves are not always visible until they get closer to the shoreline.
Just before a tsunami reaches shore, the ocean actually recedes which can be deceiving and cause many people to think the danger has passed. The reality is that when the ocean recedes in this way, you have about five minutes to get to higher ground before the wave returns at extreme heights.
14. Wildfires are often started by just a single spark or sometimes spontaneously following a period of drought. These are more common in the Western United States. The wildfires that occurred around Gatlinburg TN began suddenly and caused extreme devastation and damage throughout a widespread area.
15. Flooding can occur for a variety of reasons including prolonged periods of rain or torrential amounts of rain in short period.
During one rainstorm in NE Ohio, residents of an apartment complex near the bend of a river went to bed with everything normal and were awakened from their slumber to water anywhere from knee to chest deep. The bend in the river had given way after prolonged rain and the entire area was flooded and destroyed in just a couple of hours.
16. Sinkhole/Landslides can pop up out of nowhere because you simply cannot see what is happening beneath the ground. When the ground becomes oversaturated, it simply cannot hold and gives way. This can put trees, cars, even entire houses at risk in a matter of minutes.
17. Earthquakes are quick to hit up on you even though we are continually getting better at monitoring these and getting an alert out. Often times you don’t know an earthquake is coming until the room begins to shake.
18. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning can occur from automobile exhaust, improper use/maintenance of heating devices (furnace, fireplace, kerosene heater, etc.) Proper safety precautions and monitoring or alert devices can help prevent this sneakiest of disasters that can sneak up on you.
19. Dehydration is one of the personal medical disasters that can sneak up on you if you aren’t paying attention. Dehydration can happen suddenly or can occur gradually over time depending on the circumstances.
Drink plenty of fluids and carefully monitor urine output and other dehydration symptoms such as dry skin, extreme thirst, dizziness, or confusion to take steps to stay hydrated before effects become life threatening.
20. Low Blood Sugar/Diabetic Emergencies can also sneak up on you, especially if you have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes. Low blood sugar can cause extreme symptoms such as confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech, and even coma if not treated quickly.
21. Heart Attacks have long been known as another type of personal medical disasters that can sneak up on you. Heart attacks can be caused by many different factors including diet, stress, genetic defects, and physical exertion. It’s important to know symptoms and signs to watch for and begin careful monitoring or treatment if you fall into any of the risk categories.
22. Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke can also sneak up on you whenever you are exposed to moderate to high temperatures without taking steps to stay hydrated. To help prevent heat exhaustion/heat stroke, limit exposure to heat/sun and take frequent breaks from physical activity during warmer months or warm climates.
This list of disasters that can sneak up on you should give you motivation to get as prepared as possible to survive whatever life may throw at you. Knowing which kinds of disasters can sneak up on you and what to do when you experience the first signs/symptoms can a life and death difference in many cases.
Have you experienced these or other disasters that have snuck up on you? Let us know in the comments below.
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of ten is learning everything she can about preparedness, survival, and homesteading.