Tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes are three types of natural disasters that can cause a great deal of damage and impact your lung health.
- Other than knowing you live in an area prone to earthquakes, there generally isn’t warning that an earthquake is about to occur. After an earthquake it is common to experience less severe aftershocks. These jolting events have the potential to damage or destroy structures that could send harmful pollutants into the air.
- Hurricanes, often accompanied by flooding, pose many potential lung health risks from contaminated standing water. During and after a hurricane, you are at risk of coming into contact with bacteria, mold and toxic substances from damaged buildings that can make you sick.
- Tornadoes and the accompanying rainfall and flooding can cause major air pollution. This pollution comes from various sources and can be easily seen in the flying dust and dirt. Tornadoes have the power to destroy containers that store toxic pollutants or structures that contain materials such asbestos. Read more about How Tornadoes May Be Affecting Your Air Quality on our blog.
For each of these disasters, the accompanying rainfall and flooding may also threaten your family or your home. While cleaning up you'll want to protect your family, especially if someone has lung disease, from the many indoor and outdoor air pollutants and other health threats that can make them sick.
Below are some resources that can help.
Preparing for the Threats
- Preparation is key. Weather warnings offer a better chance now to protect your family.
- If you live where tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes are likely, prepare ahead of time. Ready.gov, an initiative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies, has information on preparing for tornadoes, flooding and other disasters that may occur.
- 10 Tips to Prepare for a Natural Disaster
After the Disaster
- Returning Home has a list of helpful tips to protect your lung health when you return home after a disaster
- More detailed information about common concerns in tornado cleanup can be found in Indoor Air Pollutants and Health
- If you or a family member live with asthma, COPD or another chronic lung disease, you can learn self-management strategies now that will help you keep your lung disease under control during a disaster
For more information on disaster recovery, please contact our Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA.
- See a chemical or oil spill? Call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 (24 hours a day every day). Chemicals can give off toxic air pollution, so report them as quickly as possible.
- More information at Ready.gov can help you prepare for or respond.
- Need help recovering? DisasterAssistance.gov helps you to receive disaster assistance.
- What to do with disaster debris? Don't burn it. This lists ways that work to get rid of debris without adding to the burden to your health. More information is also available in this guide to mold cleanup after disasters.
- More recovery advice from Environmental Protection Agency
- American Red Cross provides guidance to help members of your family connect during and after a disaster.
- Downloadable infographic handout on hurricane preparation available in English and Spanish. https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/infographics/br-hurricanes.htm
Page last updated: March 7, 2023