Study shows where natural disasters hit hardest

Emergency Management Alert, December 23, 2008

A study conducted by University of South Carolina's Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute has used death rates to track the likelihood of natural disasters in specific areas of the United States.

The study, published in the December 17 issue of the International Journal of Health Geographics, could prove to be a valuable tool in planning for natural disasters.

Surprisingly, the study found that highly destructive events that made more headlines, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires, made up less than 5% of deaths from natural disasters. Less publicized events such as heat (20%), severe weather with multiple causes (18.8%), and winter weather (18.1%) were the most hazardous.

The study pinpoints rural areas, coastal zones with bad weather, and the South as areas with the greatest risk of death from natural hazards. Meanwhile, the Midwest and urbanized Northeast had the lowest mortality rates. Researchers have said that by looking at these risks geographically, emergency agencies can sufficiently warn residents.

For the provisional report, click here.


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