When you decide where to live, there are a lot of factors that you probably consider. The risk of a flood or wildfire should be one of them.
More than 10 million apartments and houses have a substantial risk of flooding in the next 30 years — from sea level rise and storm surge along the coasts, and heavy rain and river flooding inland. More than 40 million Americans live in high-risk fire zones, including suburbs that are far away from forests or grasslands.
And yet, in most parts of the country, it is easy to move into a flood or fire-prone building and not even know you're in harm's way. Landlords and sellers often aren't required to disclose information about past disasters or future risk, even if the building has burned or flooded in the past. The information that tenants and buyers do receive often comes too late, or can be confusing or misleading.
So, whether you're moving or already living somewhere, what questions should you ask about floods and wildfires? And what can you do to make your family safer if you're living in a place where climate change is driving more frequent and severe disasters?
Whether you're moving somewhere new or you've lived there a long time, this Life Kit episode will help you understand what to ask to be better prepared. Listen at the top of this page or here.
For more, NPR talked to flood and fire experts, and put together two guides, including links to the maps we discuss in this episode, that can help you understand your risk and adapt your home to our hotter Earth.
Do you live somewhere that is threatened by both floods and wildfires? Here's a downloadable PDF with fire and flood questions all in one place.
The podcast version of this episode was produced by Clare Marie Schneider.
We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823 or email us at LifeKit@npr.org.
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