If you've ever watched the program "Doomsday Preppers," you've probably noticed that each person or family featured on the program has a particular disaster scenario they're preparing for. While I'm fairly sure that all the people who are featured on the show are preppers to some degree or other, I'm also sure that whatever they are saying is being carefully edited for television. As part of that, I seriously doubt that most of them have only one disaster in mind.
The fact of the matter is, there are many different potential disasters that we all face, each and every day of our lives. Preparing for just one, while ignoring everything else going on around us, is foolish. So, while concentrating on one disaster might make for good television, especially if the disaster is something unusual, it doesn't make for good prepping.
In reality, many of the preps we would make for one disaster will also help us to prepare for other types of disasters. Oh, there will always be some differences; special things that are needed for a particular type of disaster, but food and water are needed for pretty much everything.
But there's no way we can possibly know if we are prepared or even know what to prepare, if we don't do a periodic risk analysis. This is something that is common in big business and it fits in with prepping perfectly. All preppers should do periodic risk analysis, to make sure that they are both preparing for everything and preparing for the right things.
The Basics of Risk Analysis
While risk analysis sounds like something complicated, it really isn't. At least, it isn't complicated on the level that we need to look at it. For us, it's rather straightforward.
We need to start with determining all the possible risks that we face. When I say all here, I really mean all. You may not think there's much of a possibility of a Martian invasion, but if you believe that there are Martians, think that they have developed space travel and have heard anything about them being a warlike race, then such an invasion is a possibility. Therefore, it should go on the list.
Your list needs to look at a few basic areas, breaking those areas down to all the realistic possibilities for you and your family. Those areas include:
- Natural disasters that can strike your area
- Man-made disasters, both regional and national
- Nationwide disasters (most-likely man made)
- Personal disasters (loss of a wage earner, major illness, loss of a job)
Your list will be different than mine, and may even be different than your neighbors. Maybe they believe that the zombie apocalypse is coming, but you don't believe in zombies. That would make a difference in your list. Don't sweat it; you're looking out for your family, not for theirs.
Now, each item on your list needs to be rated in two different ways; the likelihood of the event happening and the severity of the impact of that happening. If you live in Wyoming, the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would have a huge impact, even though the likelihood of it happening is not real high in any one year. But if you live in Maine, the impact would be only through secondary effects, such as the price of beef going up.
In doing this, we'll be giving each of these potential risks two "grades." The first one is for the likelihood of the risk happening:
- 5 - Very likely
- 4 - Likely
- 3 - Possible
- 2 - Unlikely
- 1 - Rare
The second "grade" will be for the severity of the impact on your life, if the risk happens:
- 5 - Disastrous
- 4 - Severe
- 3 - Moderate
- 2 - Minimal
- 1 - Negligible
Multiplying the two together gives us a "risk score" for each item on the list. That score can then be used to prioritize all the risks we face, providing us with a means of knowing which ones are the most important ones for us to prepare for.
We can take all these potential risks and make ourselves a matrix, like this:
Putting the list of possible disasters into a graphic form like this makes it easier to see all the disasters you are preparing for, as well as their relative importance. The redder the block that the disaster is in (and you can have more than one disaster in a block), the more important it is for you to be prepared. The greener the block that the disaster is listed in, the lower the priority that particular disaster is.
Avoid Tunnel Vision
One of the problems that anyone can have with disaster preparedness is focusing on one thing, while not paying enough attention to another. While this matrix is a useful tool in identifying the risks you face and prioritizing them, it is easy to allow the matrix to focus you on one thing, to the extreme that you lose sight of other potential disasters. Be careful about this.
True preparedness has to include being prepared for everything that can come your way. While that isn't really possible, it's something we should all aspire towards. Even low risk or low impact disasters need to be considered, even if your answer is to decide not to worry about it.
It's a Continuous Process
Risk analysis has to be a continuous, ongoing process. It's not the type of thing that can be done once, and forgotten about for the rest of your life. Risks change, and your risk analysis needs to change with the times.
Both personal and world events can change your risk analysis. When my youngest child graduated from college, got married, and moved out, I no longer had to worry about the risk of him breaking his arm and the ensuing medical bills that would entail. So, my risk analysis changed. That item was eliminated. Unfortunately, it was replaced by the risk of my wife or I having a major medical problem, something that statistically is more likely to happen, the older we get.
Then there are the world events. A couple of years ago, one of the major events going on in the world was the Ebola outbreak in East Africa. Thousands of people were infected, making it the largest known Ebola outbreak in history. There was a worldwide risk of the disease spreading due to the ready availability of air travel. In addition, there was the risk of some terrorist group getting their hands on the virus and using it for acts of bio-terrorism.
Fortunately, the only acts of bio-terrorism which happened were in factious novels. Those were scary enough. No terrorist group has apparently managed to weaponize the virus and there have been no reports of other outbreaks of the disease. So, while the risk and danger of an Ebola outbreak was high a couple of years ago, the risk has dropped, even though the danger of such an outbreak hasn't.
With that, let's go on to look at the top dangers I see in the world today, as well as their potential impact on our society.
It's not as "sexy" as the major disasters that people talk about all the time, but the most likely disaster that any of us will face is a natural disaster. While not all regions of the country are susceptible to the same types of disasters, there is no part of the country which is not susceptible to nature's fury at all.
The big question is what type of natural disasters your part of the country is most likely to have. Don't limit your thinking to just one type of disaster though, when you're thinking about this. There are several areas of the country which are susceptible to more than one kind. They might have a high risk of tornado in the spring or summer, while having a risk of hurricanes in the fall or blizzards in the winter.
Specifically, when we're talking about natural disasters, you need to consider:
- Wildfires (forest fires or brush fires)
- Flooding or flash flooding
In cases where your region of the country is susceptible to various types of natural disaster, you need to be prepared for all of the various types. That increases your prep work considerably, even though some things will be able to be used in common for all the disasters.
Loss of the Electrical Grid
Probably the most serious possible calamity that could befall our country is the loss of the electric grid. While this could happen through any of a number of different causes, they would all have the same effect, essentially shutting down society as we know it today.
Serious blackouts are on the rise, with a doubling every five years, of the average number of major blackouts per year. That means we are twice as likely to have a blackout today, than we were five years ago and 16 times more likely to have one, than we were 20 years ago. With those sort of statistics, we can expect blackouts to become commonplace in the future.
Why are we having so many major power outages? There are actually several reasons for it, although the number one reason is the age of our electrical grid. A large percentage of the grid is over 40 years old, and it was only designed and constructed to last 50 years. There are even parts of the grid still in use today, which were built over 100 years ago. Without replacement and modernization, these systems will eventually fail and fail big.
But updating the grid is an expensive proposition, as well as one which requires swimming through a sea of red tape. There are many agencies, on both a state and federal level, which have a say on any power project, whether it is the building of a new power plant or the construction of new power lines. Even getting permission to make use of existing power poles, adding additional wires, is an extensive process, which can take months.
Yet the blackouts we've had to date are basically temporary blackouts. Whether caused by inclement weather or by an errant squirrel being fried on a transformer, they are mostly localized events, which are easy to repair. But there are other events, which could take the grid down permanently.
Some of the major blackouts which we Americans have suffered through in the last few years have been due to power substations going down. These substations are the most vulnerable and most critical part of our electric grid. With thousands of them scattered across the United States, it's impossible to even pretend to protect a fraction of them. Yet without that protection, they are very vulnerable to attack.
An electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) occurs when nuclear bombs are set off above the atmosphere. Without air to convert the energy developed in the explosion into a shock wave and heat, the energy leaves the explosion in its original state, that of electro-magnetic energy. When this energy hits the atmosphere, it strips electrons off atoms in the upper atmosphere, effectively doubling its power.
All that power has to go somewhere and it is racing towards the surface of the Earth. When it arrives, it finds a plethora of electronic equipment, all of which is ready to absorb its power. Unfortunately, while that equipment is ready to absorb the electronic power, it isn't made to handle that much power. So the EMP destroys the electronics it comes into contact with.
Some of the electronics that it destroys are the transformers in the substations I just mentioned, effectively shutting down the grid. Since these transformers can't be purchased off the shelf, that means that the grid will be down for as long as it takes to build new ones. There are only seven countries worldwide that do so and the minimum order time is a year. So, the country will be without electrical power for at least a year.
According to the report by the EMP Commission, loss of the grid for that year will result in the deaths of as much as 90% of our population, nationwide. This makes an EMP the single most dangerous even that could strike our country.
That great ball of gas, burning in the sky is just about as dangerous as an EMP attack. Every so often, the sun throws off a portion of its mass in a huge burning extension of itself. These "flares" can be big enough to swallow the Earth and everything it contains, many times over. Fortunately, they don't reach this far out from the sun.
But what does reach this far is the electro-magnetic energy that is spilled forth along with the hot burning gases. Much like an EMP, this energy could reach the earth. Depending on timing, the United States might be facing the sun when that energy arrives, or another part of the world might be. Whichever countries end up facing the sun, when it arrives, will have the same sort of thing happen to them, as an enemy setting of a nuke to create an EMP.
When we talk about terrorism, we normally don't think about infrastructure, we think about some guy with an exploding vest on or hosing down a crowd with an AK-47. But they can accomplish a whole lot more, affecting many more lives, by disrupting our electrical power.
In April, 2013, an unknown number of gunmen opened fire on the San Jose substation with rifles, shutting down power for thousands of people. While it is unknown if this was a practice terrorist attack or was motivated by some other reason, it is clear that the attackers knew what they were doing. Rather than just shoot up the station, they targeted the coolant tanks on the transformers, draining the oil and destroying the critical transformers.
Such an attack, properly planned and coordinated, hitting multiple substations at the same time, could be almost as effective as an EMP. There are supposedly nine critical substations in the country, which if taken out at the same time, would shut down electrical power to the whole of the continental United States.
With everything from social media through bank accounts to our government agencies running on the internet these days, it's not surprising that foreign governments and terrorist organizations would be looking for means to access our power grid through the internet and shut it down.
China is the world leader in cyber-warfare, having an actual division in their Army, which is dedicated to developing the means to use cyber-warfare as a means of disrupting opposing countries in a time of war. It is a known fact that they have been "tickling" our power grid, seeking access to our systems, with the possible potential of shutting it down.
I have heard reports, but have not been able to confirm them, that the Chinese have even managed to get all the way into the controls of one of our nation's nuclear power reactors, taking it over. While they did not do any damage, they did make it clear that they had control, taking the settings outside of their normal bounds and allowing the reactor to heat up beyond the normally acceptable range, before allowing it to return to normal.
We've been hearing about the potential for a financial collapse for years now, ever since the national debt soared above 15 trillion dollars. Yet that debt has not gone down any, and the economic recovery that Obama keeps talking about is mostly a fiction created to make him look good. The fact is that the economy has not recovered, regardless of how much they change government statistics to make it look like we are.
There are two major signs of a financial collapse; high unemployment and runaway inflation. According to the figures that the government is putting out, we have neither of these problems. But according to what people are having to live with everyday, both are still on the rise.
Unemployment has never gone down, since the 2008-2009 recession. While the Department of Labor is reporting only 5% unemployment, the way they figure that is unrealistic. It only shows those who are receiving unemployment compensation, not those who are unemployed. Since the labor force participation rate hasn't improved, we know that real unemployment is still a problem. Underemployment is even more of one.
As for inflation, that's another bit of slight-of-hand on the part of the government. By carefully picking the products that they track, they can make it look like there's no inflation. But food and energy, two of the average family's biggest monthly expenses, are on the rise. In fact, food prices are going up by over 8% per year.
With more and more major corporations looking to move operations overseas to avoid high corporate taxes and massive regulations, we can only expect this problem to get worse. All that the Obama administration has been able to do is forestall us falling off the financial cliff, they haven't been able to do a thing to remove the cliff.
Domestic Violence or Racial Civil War
Black Lives Matter, the violent racial group that was spawned out of the Ferguson, Missouri shooting, is still active, spewing hatred and violence wherever they go. When 1/3 of Louisiana was underwater due to flooding, their only contribution to help out black lives in Louisiana was to hold a demonstration. Then, in their most recent "event" they shut down a highway in Charlotte, Carolina, stealing goods from the semis stuck on the highway and burning them.
The Charlotte episode, like many of the Black Lives Matter events, was caused the shooting of a black man by the police. Once again, the media narrative fed the fury, lying and telling the public that the young man who was shot was innocent and was holding nothing more than a book. However, he was in fact armed and was threatening the police. Oh, and by the way, the police officer who shot him was black as well. So where's the racism?
The leaders of this loose-knit organization and many others who are hanging on around the edges, are calling for a combination of violence against whites, overthrow of police authority and restitution from whites to blacks for our country's history of slavery. But they aren't bothered at all by black on black violence, murders or Islamic slavery. In other words, they are a farce, interested in nothing more than getting something for nothing.
In reality, Black Lives Matter is a domestic terrorist organization, engaged in acts of terrorism. Even if our liberal president and his liberal administration won't admit it, that's all they are doing. And in doing so, they are hurting their own people, more than their sworn enemies.
If the leaders of this terrorist organization have their way, we'll see racial civil war break out within the next year. That would be foolish on their part, as whites outnumber them by a factor of more than six to one. Yet they have a desire for violence on their side, which they apparently think will make up for what they lack in numbers, arms and ability.
Radical Islamic Extremism
Islamic terrorism is on the rise on a worldwide basis. While we actually see very few attacks here in the United States, those we are experiencing are devastating, making a major impact on society. They are also on the increase, even though they don't come anywhere close to what is being seen in other countries.
Our country is essentially defenseless against these attacks, because Obama and the Department of Justice have issued countless orders to police departments, forbidding them from doing any racial profiling of Muslims or Blacks. Every report of suspicious activity is answered by a charge of racism, helping to ensure that people keep their mouths shut, when they see something suspicious.
The fact of the matter is, the vast majority of terrorists in the world are Muslims. That's why they are looked at with suspicion. They won't police their own ranks, but rather continue to play the victim card, each and every time that anyone suspects a Muslim of harboring violent intent.
This makes it all but impossible for our law enforcement authorities to do anything about terrorism. Many of those who have committed acts of terrorism in the last few years have been investigated. But due to the "guidance" coming out of Washington, those investigations were either cut short or were not in-depth enough to find out the truth. Therefore, we were "surprised" by the attacks.
Under the current administration, the terrorism problem is mostly left in the hands of the law-abiding citizens with a concealed carry license. I recently spoke with a trainer from our county's sheriff department, who told me that the consensus of opinion amongst his brother officers was that if a terrorist incident happened in our county, the various police departments and sheriff's department wouldn't have to do anything but clear out the bodies and file the reports. The terrorists would be taken care of my those of us who legally carry concealed.Recent attacks show that there is no place in the country which is safe from terrorism. Looking back a few years, terrorists concentrated their efforts on major population centers, in order to get more publicity and have more potential targets. But the attacks in the last couple of years have mostly happened in smaller cities, making them a greater threat to more and more American citizens.