Last year, the U.S. suffered 16 major natural disasters — up 33 percent from the year before — with collective recovery costs of more than $300 billion.

A recent study by Esurance revealed that the vast majority of U.S. residents have experienced at least 1 major weather catastrophe in the past 5 years. And although 80 percent of respondents expressed concern about the increasing pace of these events, less than half believe that their communities are getting better at handling them. Furthermore, only 17 percent felt they were personally prepared for an unexpected natural disaster.

In the analysis, Esurance discovered that people continue to leave themselves and their homes vulnerable to Mother Nature's wrath, despite all the powerful tools that are now available to help. 

In the survey, 36 percent of respondents said they'd lived through at least 3 severe weather events in the past 5 years. Yet:

  • Only 25 percent proactively prepare for potentially damaging weather events.
  • Just 22 percent own some sort of technology to help them handle severe weather.
  • Even fewer (only 13 percent) could explain their community's disaster plan.

In addition, for most people, "preparation" constitutes only the basics: 76 percent have staples like food, water, and first-aid kits.

And even with so many useful tools currently on the market, the use of high-tech and advanced home-based solutions is still uncommon:

  • Only a quarter of respondents have invested in products like generators, hurricane shutters, wet-dry vacuums, or storm panels.
  • When it comes to newer home technologies-such as smart smoke alarms and water sensors that can alert you to flood or fire in your home via cellphone-many people just don't know they exist. In fact, almost half of those we surveyed had never heard of these devices.

The survey also found that more than 80 percent of respondents would feel more confident about getting through the next big storm if their communities implemented high-tech tools, almost no one (only 3 percent of our respondents) plans to invest in personal tech in the near future themselves.