22 Disasters That Can Sneak Up On You

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.

house burning down in flames

Unexpected Disastrous Events that Can Sneak Up on You

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 criminals don’t announce themselves in advance. This disaster may not impact your neighbors if only your home is targeted by criminals 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.

flood

Natural Disasters That Can Sneak Up On You

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 sneak up on you because you often 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 can sneak 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.

Medical Emergencies That Can Sneak Up On You

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.

About Megan Stewart

Megan Stewart
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 for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of nine grandsons and one granddaughter, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.

4 comments

  1. Avatar

    Many of the items on the following list can catch a person unawares. Especially some of those that are not too likely and are seldom discussed. There are a few, of course, that many can see coming. But I was too lazy to take them out.

    As for what I prepare for, I prepare less by type of disaster than I do by basic human needs. The basic needs are pretty much the same, no matter what the disaster. As I meet my goals for the basics I do specific things for specific disasters. There really are not that many individual elements that are not appropriate for several sets of circumstances. My ultimate goal is to be as self-sufficient for as long of a period as it is practical to be in modern society.

    This is a list of the things I consider when I am making preps, in alphabetical order. The dangers in some of them relate directly to peoples’ belief in them, as much as the actual event. Some things do not have to happen to be a danger. The mere belief can be enough to set people on a destructive path.

    (No. I am not ready for all of them yet. And yes, some of them simply call for having your affairs in order.)

    1) A New Evil charismatic leader (Hitler /Stalin /Mao style)
    2) A New Messiah
    3) A new Persian Empire
    4) Abolishment /unconstitutional rewrite of the US constitution
    5) Active shooter at public venue /business
    6) Active shooter at school /college campus
    7) Addictive Entertainment
    8) Advanced Technology disaster
    9) Agenda 21
    10) Airplane crash
    11) Anarchy
    12) Antibiotic resistant bacteria
    13) Armageddon
    14) Atmospheric River storm /severe flooding
    15) Automotive accident
    16) Avalanche
    17) Aztlan /Reconquista Uprising
    18) Bank closure /failure /mandated bank holiday
    19) Bath Salt drug zombies
    20) Becoming a refugee
    21) Becoming lost in the megalopolis
    22) Becoming lost in the wilderness
    23) Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (fungi /pesticide /parasites) crop pollination failures
    24) Biblical flood
    25) Biblical plagues
    26) Biological war /attack
    27) Black hole appearance
    28) Blackout
    29) Blizzard
    30) Boat wreck /ship wreck
    31) Brownout
    32) Carrington Event /Massive solar flare
    33) Celestial object impact /near miss
    34) Central US major tectonic /volcanic activity
    35) Chemical war /attack
    36) Civil war
    37) Civilian disarmament
    38) Cloning of dangerous plants /animals
    39) Cloning of humans
    40) Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)
    41) Communication restrictions
    42) Corporate /industrial flight from the US
    43) Crime wave
    44) Criminal Coup of the government
    45) Crop failures
    46) Dam failure /collapse
    47) Dangerous wildlife confrontation
    48) Dark matter /anti-matter incident
    49) Declining drinking water aquifer levels
    50) Destruction /loss of the middle class
    51) DHS take over
    52) Draconian police powers /actions
    53) Drinking water aquifer contamination /poisoning
    54) Drought
    55) Dust bowl
    56) Earth Core Cooling
    57) Earth orbit shift
    58) Earthquake
    59) Eco-system collapse
    60) Electro Magnetic Pulse attack (EMP attack)
    61) Electro Magnetic Pulse from coronal mass ejection or other solar activity
    62) Encroachment of drinking water aquifers by seawater
    63) Environmental disaster
    64) Epidemic
    65) Ethnic war
    66) Evidence of extraterrestrials
    67) Exodus of important skill holders from the US
    68) Exodus of the wealthy /rich from the US
    69) Extraterrestrial biological contamination
    70) Federal police force w /broad powers circumventing civilian protections
    71) Fire storm
    72) Flash mob violence /criminal event
    73) Flash flood
    74) Food shortages /price increases
    75) Forest fire /wild fire
    76) Fuel shortages /price increases
    77) Fungal infections of food staples crops
    78) Gamma ray burst from neutron star collision
    79) Global cooling /Ice Age
    80) Global nuclear war
    81) Global warming
    82) Gold /PM recall
    83) Gold /PM restrictions
    84) Government Tyranny
    85) Grand Alignment induced tectonic activity
    86) Great Lakes drainage event (to the Ohio River due to tectonic activity)
    87) Ground surface tilt /rise /subsidence from tectonics /magma movement
    88) Gulf Stream shutdown /subsidence
    89) Hail
    90) Hazmat incident
    91) Heat wave
    92) Home gardening restrictions
    93) Home invasion
    94) Hostage situation
    95) Hostile extraterrestrials
    96) House /apartment /building fire
    97) Hurricane
    98) Hypercane
    99) Ice Storm
    100) Infrastructure collapse /failures
    101) Invasion of the US
    102) Invasive plant and animal species
    103) Kidnapped
    104) Lahar
    105) Landslide /mudslide
    106) Large scale JIT delivery failures
    107) Limited nuclear war /attack
    108) Limnic eruption
    109) Local major accident (aircraft /auto /rail /building)
    110) Local major crime
    111) Local /regional gun grab
    112) Lockdown at school /college campus
    113) Lockdown at work /business
    114) Loss of job
    115) Magnetic pole shift
    116) Major conventional war
    117) Major economic depression
    118) Major nuclear power plant incident
    119) Major Tax Rate increases
    120) Martial Law
    121) Massive tectonic activity
    122) Massive /rapid increase in the poverty level /numbers
    123) Maunder Minimum low sunspot cycle triggered ice age
    124) Medical emergency
    125) Mega Quake (New Madrid seismic zone, Cascadia subduction zone)
    126) Mega Tsunami (La Palma, West Antarctic Ice Sheet)
    127) Mega Volcano (Yellowstone Caldera)
    128) Methane Hydrate release
    129) Mississippi River bed change
    130) National bankruptcy /default
    131) Nationwide /global economic breakdown
    132) Nemesis induced Oort Cloud meteorite rain
    133) New colonial activity (France /Spain /Portugal /Italy /Germany /Japan /China /Russia /Great Britain /Brazil /Venezuela)
    134) New, more restrictive assault weapons ban
    135) New World Order (NWO)
    136) Out of control bio-genetics /bio-technology
    137) Out of control Nano-technology /robotics
    138) Overpopulation
    139) Ozone layer depletion
    140) Pandemic /Syndemic pandemic
    141) Peaceful extraterrestrials
    142) Peak oil
    143) Personal financial breakdown
    144) Personal /family catastrophic illness
    145) Personal impact crimes
    146) Pestilence
    147) Political unrest /backlash
    148) Pyroclastic flow
    149) Racial war
    150) Rainforest deforestation
    151) Rampant inflation
    152) Rapid Population Decline
    153) Refugees
    154) Regional climate change
    155) Released /escaped dangerous zoo /circus animals
    156) Religious war
    157) Resource war
    158) Rogue Military Activity
    159) Rotational pole shift
    160) Runaway GM food plant failure /cross contamination
    161) Safe deposit box (non-bank) restrictions /closures
    162) Sand /dust storms /Haboob
    163) Sea level drop
    164) Sea level rise
    165) Second coming
    166) Seceding of one or more states from the US
    167) Sentient computer(s) take over
    168) Severe Lightning
    169) Sheriffs lose arrest rights /authority
    170) Shipwrecked /marooned
    171) Shortages of goods and services for a variety of reasons
    172) Sinkholes
    173) Slow rise flood
    174) Social break down
    175) Solar radiation increase /decrease
    176) State bankruptcy /default
    177) Strikes /boycotts /embargoes /price controls
    178) Sub-atomic particle research accident
    179) Sudden regional major population shift
    180) Super-storm
    181) Tailings pond dam failure /collapse
    182) Terrorism of all types
    183) The Anti-Christ
    184) Tornado
    185) Total gun ban /confiscation
    186) Train wreck
    187) Travel restrictions
    188) Tsunami
    189) UN Small Arms Treaty
    190) UN /One World Government
    191) US civilian coup
    192) US military coup
    193) US revolution
    194) Utilities failures
    195) Vehicle breakdown /stranded
    196) Volcano
    197) Water shortages
    198) Water system contamination /poisoning
    199) Wealth redistribution (by currency exchange /tax rates)
    200) Weapons restrictions
    201) Weather Modification attack
    202) Widespread civil unrest /riots
    203) Wild animal rampage
    204) World Population dramatic increase
    205) Zombies /vampires /werewolves /other supernatural dangers (Just kidding! Sort of. The mere belief in can be/cause a disaster.)

    Just my opinion.

  2. Avatar

    good article. almost all disasters can be prepared for in the same way. lower debt, store food/water, security/safety, remain fit physically/mentally. it is important not to be over whelmed by all the disasters, rather identify those most likely and prioritize your preps accordingly. if you have good secure shelter, some food and water, a rifle and ammo you are doing better than the majority of the people out there.

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