When is the last time you conducted a threat assessment, on yourself? Threat assessments are fairly common practice in many industries. Schools, hospitals, businesses, high profile individuals, military/government/critical infrastructure...these days conducting a threat assessment is just part of doing business. Individuals, however, usually don't think to conduct such an assessment on themselves. It's about time we all do this so that we will have a more realistic basis for our disaster preparedness planning. Here's some things to consider:
- You may want to begin by listing any and every threat you can think of. Threats include: job loss, hurricanes, street crime, fire, winter storms, socio-economic collapse, illness/injury/death of the family breadwinner, earthquakes, home invasion, pandemic flu, chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear disaster, etc.
- Think the threats out for yourself--and don't pay attention to the news while you do it. If every media source is reporting on the horrible economy but you are debt free, own your own home, have plenty of savings, are self employed in a stable industry, and can pretty much take care of yourself financially, then unlike most of the population, financial calamity probably won't be at the top of your list.
- Next look at each risk and make three categories: least likely to happen, most likely to happen, and everything in between. Where we live, we simply don't have hurricanes so although this phenomena can be a very serious risk, it isn't a risk for me and my family so it gets put into the 'least likely to happen' list. We do, however, get earthquakes so this will go on the 'most likely to happen' list.
- Take your 'most likely to happen' list and logically prioritize them. Don't let the media or emotions take over when putting this list together. The news of the day can often impact our thinking and cause us to give more priority to categories that really are less likely to happen then the regular 'ol boring stuff like job loss.
- Now look at your prioritized 'most likely to happen' list and start planning. What are ten steps you can take now or in the near future that would help mitigate each disaster? For example, if you are the family breadwinner and you have a spouse and three kids at home, at the top of your list of disasters would be the possibility of your long term illness/disability or death. Without you and your income around, that truly would be a disaster for your family. And unfortunately, such a scenario is much more likely to happen than something like marauding hoards or nuclear warfare. Your ten steps, then, would include: getting life insurance, writing or updating your Will, looking into disability insurance, getting an emergency fund in place ASAP, etc.
- Your disaster preparedness tasks should now be laid out fairly clearly. If you have ten 'most likely to happen' disasters with ten steps each to complete in order to be better prepared for such disasters to happen, then you now have 100 tasks to take care of.
- Does this mean you shouldn't prepare for things such as social collapse or bugging out for an indeterminate amount of time? No. You should always develop your skills, think through every "what if" scenario you could think of, practice camping out in the woods, grow a garden for the exercise and health benefits, etc, however the majority of your time, attention, and money should go towards preparing for the disasters that are most likely to happen to you.
- What about the rest of the threats you listed, those that were least likely and less likely to happen? Fortunately disaster planning in general will help mitigate a wide range of disasters, not just the things you plan for. For example, an earthquake may be high on your list and a flood may be very low on your list, however the steps you take to prepare for the earthquake (getting your BOB ready, checking your insurance, planning to bug out if necessary, gathering clean up supplies, etc) will work for both situations.