A Survival Guide to Catastrophe

Disasters are becoming more frequent and costly. But there are steps we can take to improve our chances of survival

China Photos / Getty

Earthquake survivors try to salvage what they can from their destroyed houses in the Ronghua Township of Shifang, China.

When a plane crashes or the earth shakes, we tend to view the survivors as the lucky ones. Had they been in the next seat or the apartment across the street, they would have perished. We marvel at the whimsy of the devastation.

The recent earthquake in China and the cyclone in Burma, not to mention the battery of tornadoes and wildfires ripping through the U.S. this season, remind us that disasters are part of the human condition. We are more or less vulnerable to them, depending where we live.

But survival is not just a product of luck. We can...

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