Preparedness is important for reducing potential losses from various disasters. There are limited studies that investigated the concrete reasons for not adopting a specific preparedness action. This paper fills such a gap using representative national survey data from China. Seven disaster preparedness actions, namely “preparing food and water at home,” “pay attention to disaster-related information,” “making emergency plans,” “being aware of nearest shelters,” “being aware of building code,” “participating in exercise or drills” and “being a volunteer for emergencies” are used as the measure of preparedness behaviors. Overall, the public has adopted more material-related preparedness actions, equipped with fewer awareness activities, and had the least community participation-related preparedness behaviors. The primary reasons for not adopting these actions are “not aware,” “don’t know where to buy or where to reach,” and “the action is not useful, there is no necessary,” while “costly,” “need special knowledge,” “don’t have time,” “need collaboration with others,” “energy-consuming” and “not my responsibility” are the less chose reasons. Besides, trust in government, relocation due to disasters, living in urban areas, and a higher degree of socioeconomic status are positively correlated with higher probabilities of adopting all the seven preparedness activities. These findings highlight the importance of community outreach from emergency management professionals to increase the public’s awareness of preparing for potential disasters. It is necessary to let the general public know the existence of these preparedness actions, and these actions can reduce losses.