PLANThe Preparedness Cycle

Begin with phase 1 – Plan. To develop the plan, we don't need to begin by gathering “stuff” . . . we need to gather data, information, best practices, and other materials that will help us assess and analyze any and all potential threats. This is usually called “Risk Assessment”.

To prepare for crisis in any emergency or disaster situation, you must have a basic idea about what kind of real threats you could possibly face. With an idea of the possible risks, your can prepare for the skills, knowledge, training, equipment and plan you will need to not just simply survive, but thrive during a crisis. Knowing the risks will also allow you to prevent or reduce the effects for these risks.

So what is “risk”?

For our purposes, “risk” is composed of two considerations :

1. probability
2. consequences

How probable is it that a given situation will occur, and what are the consequences that will transpire when that situation occurs.

Your risk assessment will still need to include the following considerations :

Section 1: Risk Identification

There are many possible types of risk to consider in this section and I could never cover every one, but some possible examples are :


Civil Wars (The most common form of human conflict)
International Wars
Ethnic cleansing (Nazi Germany, Rwanda and the Balkans are some examples)

The most common type of conflict is Civil War. International conflicts come next and can result in massive upheaval in both country's infrastructure ranging from simple shortages to complete collapse. Genocide and ethnic cleansing are very similar with the primary distinguishing characteristic being what type of group or ideology is being eliminated. They can be prompted by race, religion, tribal or ethnic differences, political differences, etc.

Weapons of Mass Destruction (CBRN)

Attacks with Chemical weapons
Attacks with Biological weapons
Attacks with Nuclear weapons or a “dirty bomb”.
Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP)

Crime and Terrorism

Kidnapping (common danger in high risk countries like Colombia or Iraq)
Arson (the most common form of terrorist attack)
Bomb Attacks
Improvised Explosive Devises (IED's)
Suicide bombings

Famine and Starvation

Food riots get ugly . . . deadly ugly . . . and often require national guard or military intervention to stop.

Natural Disasters

Volcanic eruptions
Severe weather
Extreme Heat
Land Slides
Solar storms
Impact with Space Objects

(The last major impact with a space object was 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia. The frequency of global catastrophic impacts is very low, once or twice every one million years.)

Failing Infrastructure

Internet and telephone communications systems failures
Electrical power grid failures (often results in the collapse of communication systems and water system)
Problem with transportation systems (roads, railways, airports)
Highway failures
Bridge Collapses
Limits on Growth
Oil Embargo
Oil infrastructure accidents
Peak Oil
Global Warming
Hydro Plant Failures
Nuclear Power Plant Failures
Nuclear Power Plant Meltdown with radioactive fallout
Radioactive fallout from accidents at storage facilities or transport of radiological material.
Fallout from chemical industries or chemical transports

Economic Failures

Economic Recession
Economic Depression
Economic Collapse


Epidemics (local outbreak of disease)
Pandemics (global outbreak of a disease)

Remember that a Epidemic or Pandemic classification doesn’t take in to consideration how severe the disease is, all seasonal flues are pandemic, even if they normally only affect the people that are sensitive to disease. The people how normally are extra sensitive to disease are:

* The very young and the old
* People with untreated HIV or AIDS
* People with cancer
* Women who are pregnant

Section 2: How Likely is this to happen?

After listing the many possible types of risk to consider, an assignment of the likelihood of each risk must be assigned.

Each risk should be assigned a number from 1 (Very Low), to 5 (Very High) . . .

1.) Very low
2.) Low
3.) Medium
4.) High
5.) Very High

Section 3: What are the possible Consequences from these events?

1.) Very low
2.) Low
3.) Medium
4.) High
5.) Catastrophic

Section 4: Calculate the Risk Factor

After you have identified the Risks, there likeliness and the consequences make a Matrix with How likely they are in one axis and the Consequences in the other axis. The events in the upper right corner that is likely to happen and have high consequences, that’s where I suggest you start focusing your attention. Start to study the risks you identified and real events where they have taken place. What lessons can be learned from these events?

Section 5: Risk Management

What Resources are there to Manage these Risks?


I also suggest that you add another dimension to your Risk Assessment: How may the Risks affect your capacity for short and long term survival? May your house be destroyed or may the area where you live be contaminated with chemical or radioactive fallout so that you may not be able to return to your home? What kind of Knowledge, Training and Skills and Equipment do you have that can help you deal with these threats? How can you reduce the impact of an event or avoid it completely?

Adjusting to a Changing Situation

Risks are not something that is static. New kinds of threats manifest and new potential problems arise every year. This mean that you’re Risk Assessment must be continuously updated to incorporate new events and trends. How often this should be done depends on the situation but I would suggest that you don’t view a Risk Assessment as a work you perform one time, but more like a continuing process.

The SWOT Analysis

The SWOT Analysis is a common form of analysis designed to see different perspectives of a Past, Ongoing or Future Situation. The Analysis can be used in different settings like Intelligence Analysis, Risk Assessments, Project Management, Business Plans or simply too evaluate a course of action or a Plan.

SWOT means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The Possibilities and Weaknesses part of the analysis resembles the Pro and Con Analysis. But the analysis also includes the potential unknown or external factors: Possibilities and Threats. If a SWOT analysis is used when there is two or more Parties involved the analysis is often split into two; one analysis that describes the side that make the analysis and the analysis that describes the perspective from the other parties point of view. The SWOT analysis just like a Risk Assessment is a tool that can make it easier to see different perspectives and analyze various situations.

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