The objective of this paper is to investigate and to improve understanding of the causes and circumstances of flood disaster deaths. A standardised method of classifying flood deaths is proposed and the difficulties associated with comparing and assessing existing information on flood deaths are discussed. Thirteen flood cases from Europe and the United States, resulting in 247 flood disaster fatalities, were analysed and taken as indicative of flood disaster deaths. Approximately two-thirds of the deaths occurred through drowning. Thus, a substantial number of flood disaster fatalities are not related to drowning. Furthermore, males are highly vulnerable to dying in floods and unnecessary risk-taking behaviour contributes significantly to flood disaster deaths. Based on these results, recommendations are made to prevent loss of life in floods. To provide a more solid basis for the formulation of prevention strategies, better systematic recording of flood fatalities is suggested, especially those caused by different types of floods in all countries.