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 169,936 preventable deaths in 2017.

The chart shows the frequency, total deaths, and average deaths per event for disaster events that caused five or more deaths in 2017. Disaster events listed on this page reflect only preventable-injury events and exclude intentional events like a mass shooting and terrorism.

There were two major tropical storms/hurricanes in 2017 resulting in a total of 212 deaths, the highest total among all disaster event types. Second in total number of deaths was motor-vehicle traffic crashes. Twenty-nine motor-vehicle traffic crashes resulted in 156 deaths. Although they occur almost twice as often as the next most common disasters, motor-vehicle traffic crashes had the lowest average deaths per event with 5.4 deaths.

The next most common disaster type was fires, with 13 events resulting in 133 deaths in 2017. Excessive heat also accounted for over 100 deaths in 2017, with 11 events totaling 108 deaths. Other events, such as tornadoes, floods, and winter storms occurred far less often and resulted in fewer fatalities.

  • Chart
  • Data Table
How to Use Injury Facts® Charts and Tables

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

See data details