We do not all face the same risk of disasters. Your location determines many of the risk factors that you may face when it comes to natural disasters and other threats to your safety and well-being. Other risks are universally faced by the entire population. Determining your greatest risks and taking steps to mitigate those risks can make all the difference in your level of comfort and survival.
What are the potential risks that you need to consider as you prepare to survive? Natural disasters, man-made events and accidents, terrorist and war-related events, and epidemics are serious threats that require specific action in order to mitigate the effect that they may have on your family. Careful evaluation of your risk factors can help narrow your focus and allow you to spend your time and resources preparing for dangerous events that you have the greatest odds of experiencing.
As you consider your risks, it is important to note that there are some hazards that you may have a reasonable amount of control over and others that are completely out of your control. Spend your mental energy and resources where you can make a difference and let go of the things which are out of your control.
Our goal is to provide you with information to help you realistically identify the risks your family may face and give you some ideas on where to start to mitigate, or reduce, those risks.
Living in densely populated areas with shared resources such as water, sewer, natural gas, and power elevates many risk factors. The highest survival rates tend to be in rural areas. So why not just move to the country? It may not be an option for many of us due to employment, schooling, opportunity, or love of the urban lifestyle.
Regardless of where you live, steps can be taken to mitigate or reduce your risk of loss of life, health, and/or property. In order to accomplish this you need to:
- Determine which risks you may face.
- Design a plan to mitigate or reduce the risks.
- Implement a risk reduction plan.
- Make consistent progress to continue preparing and mitigate the potential consequences.
Basic Necessities for Survival
Survival requires only a few basic necessities; shelter, clothing, food, water, and fuel. Once you have these basics covered, the individual risk requires only a bit of tweaking. For instance, our plan for earthquake response includes securing our home to withstand some shaking, in addition to the other items that we have in place to cover all possible scenarios that our family is at risk for.
The following items build a foundation for preparing for the majority of the risks that you may face. Once you have covered these categories, it is easy to prepare for specific threats in your risk assessment.
- Develop and practice a family emergency plan, including communication devices.
- Build a food supply in your own home. Store a 3 month supply of the foods you eat every day so you can live without going to the store. Also, secure a longer-term survival food storage that will sustain you with basic foods for at least one year.
- Store water along with the tools to disinfect and purify water.
- Create emergency survival kits for each person, in each vehicle, and at work or school.
- Have a back-up plan and tools for living without electricity including alternative heating, lighting, and cooking. Remember to stock a supply of safely stored fuels to get you through the crisis.
- Develop procedures to deal with interruptions in public utilities including water, sewer, and garbage pickup.
- Build financial preparedness including an emergency fund in the bank, cash in small bills secured at home, and perhaps a modest stash of precious metals.
- Secure your home to make it a less appealing target and less susceptible to possible intruders. Improve self-defense skills and become proficient using your choice of weapons.
Click on the links in the above suggestions to be directed to a post that will teach you specifics on each topic. Once you have these basics in place, you have a foundation for battling almost all of the hazards we discuss below. Take notes on what risks your family has the greatest odds of experiencing so you can plan to mitigate them.
Mother Nature’s power must never be underestimated. Be wise as you look at possible ways to prepare for the unexpected.
Almost all areas will experience some level of drought eventually. Drought conditions are usually accompanied by increased temperatures, elevated fire hazard, insect infestation, plant disease, crop failure, decreased livestock production, and damage to wildlife. The economy is effected through higher food prices, loss of tourism, and increased unemployment rates.
Consider some of these strategies to reduce the impact a drought could have on your family:
- Learn about droughts. A good source for drought information is The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). This site contains regional assessments, maps, and indexes which are helpful in monitoring water shortages.
- Make water conservation a part of your daily life. Purchase water efficient appliances and install low flow plumbing fixtures in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Landscape with native or drought tolerant plants. Mulch around shrubs and garden plants to reduce evaporation and weeds. Use a drip system to water when possible.
Earthquakes are on the rise throughout the world. Scientists have a fairly good idea of the areas that are at the highest risk for earthquakes. Location is the most important factor. Earthquakes may cause some soils to behave like a liquid and lose their ability to support structures. Soils in low-lying areas with saturated, loose, sandy soils and poorly compacted artificial fill have the highest potential for liquefaction.
The possible repercussions of an earthquake that should be considered include:
- Damage to vital infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water and sewer pipelines, natural gas and electrical distribution systems.
- Large scale fires due to gas line breaks and electrical malfunctions.
- Hazardous material spills from refineries, chemical storage, and distribution systems, manufacturing plants, railroad cars, and trucks.
- Dam failure, flooding, landslides, and falling rocks
- 9-1-1 system may be overloaded and emergency help unavailable.
- Firefighters and emergency personnel may have limited access due to road damage and little water pressure because of ruptured water lines.
- Emergency rooms, trauma centers, and expedient care facilities may be overwhelmed, damaged, and without basic utilities.
- Earthquake recovery efforts will make construction equipment and materials in high demand and short supply.
Consider the following ideas as you prepare to lessen the consequences of an earthquake to your family:
- Visit U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to learn more about earthquakes and locate known fault lines in your area.
- Consider purchasing earthquake insurance if it makes sense in your situation.
- Identify potential earthquake hazards in your home and fix them. Secure heavy objects to the walls and install earthquake straps to secure your water heater.
- Keep a gas shut-off wrench near the main gas line in the event you need to turn off your gas.
Extreme Winter Storms
Surviving extreme winter storms is a way of life for many of us that live in cold climates. Be prepared to hunker down and stay off the roads. Travel is dangerous and not worth risking unless it is an absolute emergency. Consider reading the following resources to learn more about steps you can take to help mitigate the risk of extreme winter storms:
- Preparing to Enjoy the Winter Storm from the Safety of Your Home
- Surviving a Winter Power Outage: How to Stay Warm
- Safe Indoor Emergency Cooking Solutions
- Prepare your home and make it as energy efficient as possible. Contact your local utility company to request an energy audit. Visit DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency) to learn what incentives and rebates are available in your area to make your home more energy efficient.
Floods are a common, highly destructive hazard that can result in loss of life and property. Flood waters may contaminate water supplies spreading water-borne diseases, overwhelm drainage/sewer systems, disrupt power supplies, destroy crops, and close roads.
Repairs to infrastructure such as roads, bridges and public utilities can take a significant time to complete. Local economies may be devastated. Consider the following ideas to mitigate your risk for flooding:
- Evaluate the risk to your home. Go to FEMA Flood Map Service Center to find a flood map of your area. Where is your home in relation to surrounding terrain? Are there dams or dikes in your area? Do you live on or near a hillside where flooding may cause mudslides?
- Study the way water drains around your home. Can you alter the grade to encourage water to flow away from your home?
- Perhaps it would be a good idea to invest in a sump pump with a battery-operated backup or generator if you have a basement that is at risk of flooding.
- Purchase flood insurance, as necessary. Carefully investigate exactly what the policy covers and make sure it covers your risk adequately.
Unusually long hot summers put a strain on utilities and cause widespread blackouts leaving many without relief from overwhelming heat. The young, poor, overweight, sick, and elderly are especially vulnerable to extreme heat. Crop failures and wildfires are common during heat waves. Extreme heat can occur almost anywhere, even in mild climates. Consider some of the following ideas to prepare for extreme heat:
- Plan to beat the heat by preparing your home to be as energy efficient as possible and learn techniques to keep cool without electricity.
- Stock bottled water, sports drinks, and other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages to encourage hydration.
- Purchase cooling hats, bandanas, neck bands and vests to help reduce body temperature.
Hurricane – Tropical Storm – Typhoon
All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are at risk for hurricanes. In the Northwest Pacific, they are called typhoons. The Pacific Coast and parts of the Southwest United States receive heavy rains and floods from hurricanes produced over Mexico. Catastrophic damage can result several hundred miles inland from hurricanes.
If you live within 100 miles of a coast, you are at risk for hurricanes, floods, and tropical storms. Storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents are all possible hazards produced by hurricanes. Prepare to survive the challenges of a hurricane by taking action such as these:
- Go to NOAA’s National Weather Service National Hurricane Center for timely information on hurricane and tropical cyclone activity along with other weather information.
- Research the effect that storm surge or flooding may have on your home. Contact your city planning and zoning department or your insurance agent, or visit FEMA National Flood Insurance Program to learn more about your risk.
- Purchase an NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) and stay informed of hazardous conditions in your area.
- Be prepared to evacuate swiftly. If in doubt, go! Evacuate at first warning to avoid being trapped in your car due to traffic jams. Learn how to create the perfect emergency survival kit to make it easier when you need to evacuate here.
- Prepare your home to weather the storm. Install permanent hurricane shutters or storm panels with brackets to hold them in place. Move all outside furniture and objects that are unsecured into the garage or home.
- Prepare and stock a safe room, or designated room, with a first aid kit (include prescription medications), battery-powered emergency radio, batteries, flashlight, blankets, water, snacks, and copies of important documents.
Land Slide – Mud Slide – Debris Flow
Landslides can be caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, heavy rainfall, deforestation, overdevelopment, and mining. High-risk areas include Washington, Oregon, and coastal regions, however, they can occur in just about any mountainous area.
When rainfall rapidly saturates the ground, the chance of mudslides increase. They can be extremely dangerous and strike without warning. Houses can be completely swept away with the fast-moving debris. Homes built on steep slopes, edges of mountains, canyon bottoms, near stream channels, or canyon outlets are at high risk. You can better understand and mitigate risk factors through the following:
- Visit USGS Natural Hazards to view hazard maps of landslides in the United States.
- Consider relocating or consult a geotechnical engineer to learn how you can make your property more resilient.
- Learn what landslides or debris flows have occurred in your area. If they occurred in the past, they are likely to happen again. Consult with local authorities, a county geologist, state geological surveys, or university department of geology to learn more.
- Learn about emergency response and evacuation plans for your area. Is there more than one route to evacuate your neighborhood? Be prepared to evacuate immediately.
- Watch your property for signs of earth movement: cracked foundation, cracks or bulges in ground or pavement, a patch of ground that does not dry out, leaning structure, tilted trees, fences, or walls. Contact a geotechnical expert to evaluate immediately.
No place is ever completely safe from tornadoes. If the weather conditions are favorable, tornadoes can occur just about anywhere. Areas that are at high risk include Tornado Alley which has more tornadoes than anywhere in the world. It stretches across the central plain states which include Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois. Consider taking these steps as you mitigate your risk of tornados:
- Go to NOAA’s National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center for timely information on tornados along with other weather information.
- Consider installing a tornado safe room in your home. Go to FEMA for detailed instructions on how to build a safe room.
- Stock a safe room, or designated room, with a first aid kit (include prescription medications), battery-powered emergency radio, batteries, flashlight, blankets, water bottles, snacks, and copies of important documents.
- Learn what emergency plans your place of employment and schools have in place. Does your daycare provider have an appropriate plan in place?
- Reinforce the connection between the roof and walls with hurricane straps and bracing. The local building code may have required this depending on where and when your home was built.
Tsunamis are seismic waves created by an underwater disruption such as an earthquake or volcanic eruption. These waves can be over 100 feet high. Coastal communities are at greatest risk. Anyone within one mile of the shoreline and less than 25 feet above sea level is at risk. Consider the following mitigation steps if you live in or visit a tsunami hazard zone:
- Visit the NOAA National Weather Service U.S. Tsunami Warning System for tsunami warnings, advisories or watches. Sign up to receive messages via E-mail, text, Internet, radio, NOAA Weather radio, marine radio, and television.
- Many coastal communities are equipped with sirens and warning systems. Know what the tones mean and what to do in the event they are activated.
Volcanic activity is a common occurrence. There are typically 20 actively erupting volcanoes at any given time. Check out The Smithsonian Institute National Museum of History Global Volcanism Program to see the status of volcanic activity throughout the world. Dangers from an erupting volcano include; pyroclastic flow (a mixture of hot gas and ash), incredibly heavy ashfall, and lavaflows. If you live near an active volcano, you will need to take special precautions.
- Develop an emergency evacuation plan and keep needed supplies handy.
- Wear protective clothing such as long pants, long sleeve shirt, hat, face mask, goggles, and gloves if there is any chance of exposure.
- Volcanic ash is heavy. Sweep it off roofs to prevent collapse. Close all vents to prevent the dust from entering your home.
Wildfire events are increasing rapidly. Drought, high temperatures, fuel accumulation, and continued population growth in wildland-urban interface areas is creating a dangerous risk. You are at risk if you live in, or near, areas with large amounts of vegetation. Advanced preparation is critical in reducing the risk of wildfire damage. If you live in an area at risk for wildfire consider taking some of the following steps to mitigate the risk:
- Go to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for valuable information on preparing your home to survive wildfires.
- Keep your property cleared of leaves, lawn clippings, brush piles, and dead limbs. Prune low hanging limbs and thin trees and bushes. Do not provide fuel for the fire anywhere near your home. Stack firewood away from your home.
- Consider using noncombustible exterior building materials such as brick, stone, cement tile shingles, or metal roofing if you build or remodel. Fireproof shutters may protect your windows from radiant heat. Wood exterior can be protected by painting with a fire shield barrier which sinks right into the wood and keeps it from igniting. Plywood decking can be covered with Quikrete cement and painted with fire-resistant paint.
- Carefully investigate exactly what your homeowner’s insurance policy covers. Will it cover damages caused by a wildfire? Are there requirements you must meet to be covered?
Pandemic – Epidemic
A pandemic is a widespread epidemic of a contagious disease which affects a high percentage of the population in a large geographic area. Throughout history, pandemics (or sizable epidemics) have included influenza, smallpox, measles, cholera, leprosy, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), typhus, and others.
Pandemics are no longer contained by geographical boundaries and spread rapidly due to the global nature of our society. Breeding places include any area with a high concentration of people, such as doctor offices, emergency rooms, schools, large indoor gatherings, airports, churches, grocery stores, and other crowded locations.
Large scale illness and death could result in overwhelmed hospitals, staffing shortages, overwhelmed coroner and mortuary services. The infrastructure could be completely devastated resulting in disruption to transportation, commerce, public utilities (communications, water, gas, electricity, and sewage), emergency response services, and government. We could expect a widespread food shortage and civil unrest.
Preparing to deal with the effects of a pandemic involve much more than dealing with flu symptoms. It could drastically alter our way of life. Mitigate the risk of a pandemic to your family by implementing these suggestions:
- Strengthen your immune system. Eat healthy, exercise, and be proactive with your medical care.
- Prepare to self-quarantine for as long as necessary.
- Secure your home to protect against uninvited guests.
- Stock masks, gloves, disinfectants, medications (pain relievers/fever reducers, antidiarrheal medications, vitamin supplements such as zinc, and vitamin C, etc.), anything you might find helpful to provide comfort and relief to someone who is ill. Purchase a quality medical reference book to help diagnose and treat illnesses.
Terrorist or War Related Events
Biological warfare uses infectious agents (viruses, bacteria, and fungi) or biological toxins (poisonous compounds produced by organisms) kill or harm people. This may result in disruption to the economy and society.
The deliberate release of dangerous biological material has been used throughout history to kill and injure people. Water supplies poisoned with infected human or animal carcasses, plague contaminated bodies were thrown over city walls, contaminated food supplies and arrows infected by dipping them in decomposing bodies are all classic examples of germ warfare. Modern bioterrorism has made terrifying progress by mutating strains to be significantly more lethal.
Cholera, typhus, plague, smallpox, anthrax, tularemia, botulism, viral hemorrhagic fevers, and ricin are a few common forms of biological weapons. Governments, small organizations, and individuals have all been known to use biological weapons. Consider the following suggestions to reduce your risk:
- Go to Outbreaks Global Incident Map to monitor outbreaks, cases, and deaths from viral and bacterial diseases which have the potential to indicate biological terrorism.
- Purchase properly fitted military gas masks or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter masks which can filter most particles delivered through the air. Inhalation is the most effective means of contamination.
- Prepare a safe room in your home, stocked with supplies, to shelter-in-place if necessary.
- Be prepared to self-quarantine in the event an infectious disease epidemic results from the release of biological weapons.
Chemical Weapons – HAZMAT Incidents
Chemical weapons are classified as blister, blood, nerve, choking, and riot control agents. Chemical warfare agents (CWA) may come in solid, liquid, or gas form. They tend to have a unique odor or color. Depending on the type of CWA, it may lose effectiveness in a few minutes or hours, but some may persist for several weeks. Symptoms of exposure may appear immediately or within a few hours.
Common methods of dispersion are bombs, munitions, projectiles, spray tanks, and warheads. They are subject to temperature, humidity, and wind and are difficult to deliver. Incidents tend to be confined to a small area of a mile or less. CWA are heavier than air and stay relatively close to the ground.
HAZMAT (hazardous material) spills or incidences can cause death, injury, and illness similar to chemical weapons. They can occur during production, storage, transportation, and use of any hazardous material. They are most likely to affect you if you live or work within one mile of a railroad, freeway or hazardous cargo (HC) route, or hazardous material production or storage facility.
You can prepare for both chemical hazards by taking the following steps:
- Identify the hazardous cargo routes near your home, school or workplace. Go to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to learn where the routes are in your state.
- Go to the North American Hazmat Situations and Deployment Map and click “here” in the lower right-hand corner to see details scroll along the bottom to see all of the current incidents in real time.
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
- Prepare a safe room in your home, stocked with supplies, to shelter-in-place.
- Consider purchasing a properly fitted gas mask or HEPA masks for each member of your family.
Long Term Grid Down Event
A long term grid down event may result from a variety of scenarios. A sudden and extended power outage would seriously cripple a technologically advanced nation and result in the suffering and death of millions of people. Be prepared to live without electricity, public utilities, outside supplies (food, fuel, medication, etc.) for a year or more.
A cyber attack against the electric grid could result in widespread power outages. A report published by the NIAC entitled Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage and another by the United States Airforce Electromagnetic Defense Task Force in 2018 established that an attack against the power grid is a viable threat and urged the American people to prepare for an extended grid down event.
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is generated when a nuclear weapon is detonated in the atmosphere. The higher the denotation occurs, the larger the area affected. EMP effects are based on “line-of-sight.” Theoretically, one nuclear weapon detonated 200 miles above the earth could cause serious damage to the power grid and electronic equipment across the entire continental United States.
A solar flare, also known as a solar storm, is a series of huge explosions in the sun’s atmosphere triggered by magnetic instability. It is a brief eruption of powerful high-energy radiation from the sun’s surface. The more serious storms could produce effects similar to an EMP.
For more information about preparing for these events go to:
- EMPowering You to Prepare for an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)
- New Urgency to Prepare for an Extended Power Outage
- Video Time to Prepare for an Extended Power Outage
Nuclear power plants produce electricity throughout the world. The evacuation zone around a nuclear reactor is up to 50 miles. If you live near a nuclear power plant, be prepared to evacuate in the event of an accident.
Nuclear weapons produce immediate, as well as delayed, effects. The explosion begins with an intense flash of light and a fireball. At ground zero almost everything is immediately destroyed. It produces fires from the thermal energy of the blast as well as fires from ruptured gas and downed electric lines. Electromagnetic pulse wipes out all electronic equipment within range. Fallout particles are carried high into the atmosphere and travel hundreds of miles. Particles will affect water supply, food supply, and air quality due to radioactivity.
Potential targets for nuclear attacks include military bases, strategic missile sites, centers of government, transportation and communication centers, major ports and airfields, petroleum refineries, electrical power plants, chemical plants, manufacturing or industrial centers, along with technology and financial centers. Consider the following suggestions to help mitigate the effects of a nuclear event to your family:
- Go to Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to see a map of nuclear reactors and learn the risk for your area.
- Alex Wellerstein created an app which will let you see what may happen if a nuclear weapon is denoted at various locations. Visit Nukemap and select your location and desired bomb yield to learn how you may be affected.
- Purchase and review Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson H. Kearney. Learn how to create expedient fallout shelters and survive after a nuclear event.
- Learn how to treat radiation sickness. Purchase a supply of potassium iodide as a thyroid blocking agent in a radiation emergency.
- Consider blast and radiation shelter options. Plan on sheltering-in-place for several weeks if necessary.
- Purchase a radiation meter. Learn how to correctly operate it.
Terrorist attacks kill relatively few people compared to other hazards. These attacks include the use of biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear materials, hijackings, bombings, suicide operations, kidnappings, shootings, assaults on aircraft or ships, and other acts intended to create fear and panic. Most of the time these attacks are relatively isolated events, but there is the potential of widespread events.
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Knowledge is power. Is your home or work located in a high-profile city or tourist attraction thought to be likely terrorist targets? Be cautious in public areas—look for anything or anyone suspicious and report anything out of the ordinary to local police. Consider the following recommendations for reducing your risk from terrorism:
- Be proactive about the security where you work, live, go to school and travel. Know all emergency procedures.
- Secure your home. Develop self-defense skills. Consider legally carrying a firearm.
- Be prepared to shelter-in-place or evacuate on short notice.
Manmade Events or Accidents
Civil Unrest – Breakdown of Social Order
Major disasters, economic challenges, high levels of unemployment, discontent over corruption, lack of economic opportunities, terrorist attacks, rising fuel, and food prices, or scarcity of resources can result in the breakdown of the normal order of society.
Anytime emergency responders are overwhelmed, there is an increase in criminal and civilian violence. Civil unrest occurs when people become angry, frustrated or afraid as a group. An authoritarian crackdown may result in mass unrest on a state or regional level. It can be deadly and destructive. You can expect lawlessness, corrupt police, an absence of emergency personnel, and increased crime rate including home invasions, car-jacking, burglaries, gang violence, and rioting.
When a breakdown in social order occurs, trucking might cease. Mail delivery and the delivery of medical supplies will abruptly halt. Service stations will run out of fuel, store shelves will be empty, food shortages will develop, and manufacturing will cease. In a couple of days, banks will be unable to process transactions and people will begin to panic as food shortages escalate. It may take only a week or so for garbage to begin piling up. Transportation will cease due to fuel unavailability. Medical services will be crippled. Before long, public utilities will be interrupted.
In an effort to control the people, martial law may be declared. Military forces may be deployed to maintain order and to enforce rule over the public. Typically this means suspension of civil rights, civil law, and habeas corpus (right to be seen by a judge). Curfews will be implemented. Enforced relocations, confiscation of firearms and supplies, and arrests and executions by soldiers are a few examples of how civilians will no longer have any freedom.
The events surrounding civil unrest or a breakdown in social order are difficult to accurately predict. Consider the following ideas to reduce the risk to your family if you are faced with civil unrest:
- Be prepared to evacuate immediately to a safer prearranged location or stay indoors for an extended period of time.
- Secure your home. Be prepared to with all of the supplies you need and avoid going out in public.
- Develop self-defense skills. Purchase and learn how to use pepper spray or other alternative weapons.
- Consider safely storing firearms and ammunition. Train every responsible member of your household to use and care for each weapon. Firearms may be confiscated during martial law.
Though not something we like to imagine, an economic collapse (devaluation of the dollar, bank closures, hyperinflation, stock market crash, etc.) is a distinct possibility. The economy can be fragile. The Great Depression lasted over a decade. Depending on the circumstances, we should not always expect a quick recovery.
Assets may fall in value and money may stop circulating. Credit may not be available. Demand may be high and supplies of food, fuel, and necessities may be low. There is concern that the collapse could affect local governments and utilities which may result in loss of water, power, and natural gas. People may panic. Mass riots, looting, and crime may increase. People may freeze or starve to death. Normal commerce may cease for a few years.
An economic collapse would present many difficult challenges. However, to a large extent, we have the ability to mitigate some of the consequences. Financial wealth may disappear, but we can work to make sure our families are warm and fed. Recovery may take a while, but it will come eventually. We have to make preparations to endure the difficult times and learn to make the best of it.
Visit 12 Ways to Prepare for an Economic Collapse for some helpful ideas to get you started. This video may also be helpful to you.
The most common disaster is surprisingly a house fire. One in every 320 households reports a fire annually, demonstrating a great need to take safety measures. Residential fire-related deaths are preventable. Careful planning and safety measures can significantly reduce this risk factor. Cooking equipment is a leading cause of home fires and non-fatal injuries while smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths. Heating equipment is the second leading cause. The majority of deaths occur in the absence of working smoke alarms
Consider the following steps to greatly reduce your risk:
- Develop a family evacuation plan. Physically practice testing the alarms and evacuate the home at least twice a year. Teach family members to close doors behind them to help contain the fire. Practice using a fire extinguisher.
- Ensure each sleeping area has two escape routes (such as a door and window). Install ladders or special equipment to facilitate escape as required by the abilities of the occupant of each room.
- Properly install and maintain smoke alarms (preferably interconnected), carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers.
This risk is quite unique to each person so you may have to use your imagination as to what things you might consider a personal disaster. It usually only affects your family. It may include loss of employment, reduction of work hours, chronic illness, personal injury, the death of a loved one, mother-in-law moving in, financial loss, separation or divorce, or any event which strains your personal lifestyle.
These suggestions are a starting point of possible steps to help mitigate a personal disaster. You know specifically which things are possibilities for you.
- Purchase and maintain an appropriate level of life insurance.
- Consider long term disability insurance.
- Get out of debt and build your savings.
- Embrace opportunities to improve job skills and education.
- Protect your health by exercising, eating well, and reducing stress.
- Spend time with family members. Actively work on building relationships.
- Foster a positive attitude toward life and challenges.
Societal Collapse – Collapse of Civilization – End of the World
Many die-hard preppers are preparing for the utter and complete collapse of civilization. It has happened before and it can happen again. The history of world civilizations demonstrates that civilizations are fragile and can be completely destroyed. History also teaches us that humans are resilient. Most of the time when a civilization is left in ruins, it eventually recovers. It never looks the same, but some people usually survive and rebuild. Those who prepare will have a significantly better chance of being among those who survive.
Preparations for a complete collapse of civilization would entail preparing to be completely self-sufficient for many years. There would be an ever-present danger from desperate people in a lawless society. If you are preparing for a complete collapse of society as we know it, consider implementing the following ideas:
- If you live in a densely populated area, arrange a “bug out” location. A well-prepared rural location will increase your chance of survival.
- Secure your home against desperate intruders. Take self-defense courses. Consider storing firearms, ammunition and other weapons to protect your family.
- Develop basic skills such as food production and storage, animal husbandry, carpentry, small engine mechanics, first aid, medical skills, and basic cooking. Become a master Jack-of-all-trades.
- Build a library with well-written reference books.
- Cultivate relationships with like-minded people. Diverse talents and resources are vital to establishing a survival network. A community is your best chance for survival. Learn more here.
- Produce everything you can on your own property. Plant fruit trees, berries, and vines. Build a greenhouse to produce food year round. Store garden seeds. Raise chickens or other animals when possible.
- Gather a variety of non-electric tools and equipment. Learn how to use them.
- Consider building a well-stocked all hazards underground shelter to protect against a variety of events which could lead to, or result from, the collapse.
The Power Is in the Plan
We recognize it takes a whole lot of brain power to personalize your risk management plan. There is real power in a well-designed plan. Now you know where to start and exactly what you need to do to prepare your family for the challenges that you are most likely to face. We have created some great references to help you on your journey.