I’ve always felt if you’re prepared for a disaster on a national or global scale, such as something that would result in a total societal collapse, then surely you’re prepared for any less severe emergencies. However, to someone new to preparedness, that’s a pretty daunting task. To go from zero preps to being able to provide for an entire family for years to come is like getting your driver’s license at 9am, then getting behind the wheel at the Daytona 500 that afternoon.
In other words, you have to learn to walk before you can run.
Many of your needs during and after a disaster are constant, no matter the cause of the emergency. Breathable air, clean water, food, and personal safety are constants. What changes is how best to prepare to meet those needs.
A risk assessment is simply gathering information on the likely threats your family faces in the future. Consider the most probable scenarios, such as the loss of electricity during a storm, and work your way to the more extreme situations, like a terrorist attack using an EMP, which could take out all electrical devices for a large portion of the country…perhaps permanently.
One resource for your research is your county’s Emergency Management office. Often this is a role assigned to the Sheriff’s Department. Get in touch with the Emergency Management Coordinator and ask about getting a copy of the hazard mitigation plan for the county. Every emergency management office that receives federal funding must have this plan completed and on file. Typically, these plans concentrate on natural disasters, rather than man-made. But, they’ve done the research for you in terms of what is likely or possible to happen in your area.
The plan will not only clue you in on what hazards your local government feels are important to mitigate but it also explains what the county has done and/or plans to do about them. Remember, your tax dollars funded this plan’s creation, you are entitled to see it. Many counties have the plans posted online, you just have to find it.
You can use this document as a template for your own plan. Add in any threats you feel are missing from the county plan. Make concrete decisions on how you can mitigate the different risks yourself. Set realistic goals as to when you will accomplish the various steps. Come up with an overall time table as to when the preps will be completed. Then, stick with the plan as best you can. Revisit it often and revise it as necessary.