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 167,127 preventable deaths in 2018.

The chart shows the frequency, total deaths, and average deaths per event for disaster events that caused five or more deaths in 2018. Disaster events listed on this page reflect only preventable-injury events and exclude intentional events like a mass shooting and terrorism.

There were 21 traffic crashes involving five or more deaths in 2018 resulting in a total of 131 deaths, the highest total among all disaster event types. Second in total number of deaths was excessive heat, four major events resulted in a total of 123 deaths.

The next most deadly disaster type was wildfires with four events resulting in 106 deaths in 2017. Two tropical storms/hurricanes resulted in 102 deaths. Fires, with 14 events resulted in 78 deaths. Other events, such as tornadoes, winter storms, debris flows, high winds, and severe storms occurred far less often and resulted in fewer fatalities.

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

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