Disaster Deaths

Disasters are front-page news, even though the lives lost in the United States from major disasters accounted for only a fraction of the 161,374 preventable deaths in 2016.

The chart shows the frequency, total deaths and average deaths per event for disaster events that caused five or more deaths in 2016. Disaster events listed on this page reflect only preventable-injury events and exclude intentional events like a mass shooting and terrorism.

There were 27 motor-vehicle traffic crashes resulting in 146 deaths, the highest total among all disaster events. Although they occur almost twice as often as the next most common disasters, motor-vehicle traffic crashes had the lowest average deaths per event.

The next most common disaster type was fires, with 15 events resulting in 126 deaths in 2016. Other events, such as floods, excessive heat, winter storms and hot air balloon crashes, occurred far less often and resulted in fewer fatalities, but resulted in much higher average numbers of deaths per event.

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Source: The National Climatic Data Center, National Fire Protection Association, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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