*Threat Assessment - What Is Bugging You?*
How To Plan Your Preparations
By: wmerrin
18 September 2005

People who hang around Internet forums where personal preparedness is discussed are used to seeing "how do I get started" questions, which usually start out in the form of "what gun/knife/vehicle/backpack/gadget should I buy for my Bug-Out kit". After a few requests for clarification it usually emerges that the person needs to know how to begin the process of improving his ability to deal with whatever may come. Frequently the person has given little thought to what threat he is "Bugging Out" from, where he is "Bugging Out" to and what he will do when he gets there. He just knows we are living in difficult times and is uncomfortable with the feeling of vulnerability. The subject seems so overwhelming that many people are intimidated and don't know where to start

One thing you can do to help make the hurdles seem smaller is conduct a "Threat Analysis" that attempts to identify those problems which are most likely to come your way. The goal is to develop a rational approach to preparing for an uncertain future in a manner that doesn't deplete all your resources or sink your personal life. By prioritizing the threats and your response to them you can more effectively allocate your resources to improve your self-sufficiency. However, you have to identify the threats before you can assess them.

The first order of business is to identify the big things that could go wrong in your area (or an area you are considering relocating to) which would make life difficult for you. If you live in Southern California you obviously need to be concerned about the four California seasons: Fire, Flood, Earthquake and Riot. If you live in Florida hurricanes and wildfires come to mind. New England is subject to blizzards and winter ice storms; tornados are common in the Midwest and so on. Tailor this list to suit your own personal circumstances. The list for a family that includes infants and children won't be the same as for a single person with no local family ties. Make this list as exhaustive as you have the stomach for - you will never finish the list because you will be adding to it as you learn more. For now, don't worry about "solving" these problems, just identify as many as you can. Also don't worry about apocalyptic meteor impacts or new ice ages - you can worry about them after you are situated such that a two week power outage in the dead of winter is not a big deal or staying away from the grocery store for months on end wouldn't bother you.

Some threat topics you could consider might be:

After you have a good start on your list go through it and consider the chances of each of them occurring (not all at the same time, of course). Rank items in a rough priority - maybe high, medium and low - to get an idea of where your vulnerabilities lie. Again, don't try to solve these problems yet, just try to understand what they are and what affect they would have on you.

If you are relocating to a new area evaluate all your potential destinations in a similar fashion. You have to include factors like employment but look at the threats too. If you are moving across town keep the list in mind as you look at properties or apartments. Play out scenarios in your mind - how would you get home from work if the freeways were closed or how much trouble would you be in if a blizzard struck during the middle of the night and you couldn't go anywhere for a few days?

Weather or natural hazards aren't the only things we have to worry about. Sometimes we don't think of problems that can arise because of common facilities in our area. Here are just a few samples to think about:

Once you have a good start on compiling and prioritizing your list you can start to plan your preparations. Use the probability of an event actually happening plus the danger it poses to help prioritize your expenditure of resources. Although the Rubicon is full of good advice, you have to determine your own approach to dealing with these issues. You can't make the problems go away but you can make their effect on your life less significant. Some solutions will be easy but others may be beyond your ability to implement; you may either have to live with the risk or go somewhere else, and the choice isn't always easy.

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