3 Rules to Threat Assessment
Being prepared is critical for surviving any situation and many people work toward being prepared for anything. Realistically however, you cannot prepare for every possible contingency. Therefore, many prepare in a more general sense realizing that many emergency preparations are not disaster specific. There are certain things that you will need regardless of the disaster. Once you have prepared in a general sense such as gathering food, water, medical and other supplies you can begin preparing for specific situations. To prepare for specific threats you must have an idea of what those threats are as determined by a threat assessment.
Natural disasters obviously come to mind and you must know what are the ones most likely to occur based on your location. Tornadoes can occur anywhere in the world there are thunderstorms, and while not necessarily predictable experts can determine the likelihood of one occurring based on favorable weather conditions. Hurricanes strike land along coastal regions, as do tropical storms and they can be accurately tracked using satellite imagery. Earthquakes cannot be predicted nor forecasted and experts can only state one could occur based on geography and the fact they have occurred in the past. Seasonal disasters such as blizzards and ice storms are to be expected during certain times of the year based on favorable weather conditions.
Manmade disasters can of course happen at anytime and anywhere. You must stay informed and if you are informed, you will already know that the use of chemical weapons against civilian populations is a very real possibility anywhere in the world. Certain nations have chemical weapons and there are reports that they have been used. Additionally, some countries have unstable governments, which allow terrorist organizations the opportunity to acquire dangerous chemical weapons along with other weapons of mass destruction.
The country and world have lived under the threat of nuclear war for decades. However, in the past, the threat has been minimized by “mutually assured destruction”. Meaning if one country launched nuclear warheads, there would be retaliation strikes, assuring that both countries would suffer greatly. It was always the assumption that those in control used rational thinking and realized that striking first would guarantee their own destruction; this is no longer the case today. A nuclear disaster is a very real possibility anywhere in the world.
Localized threats are there threats to you and your family because of where you live? As far as one person or family being a specific target, the threat is minimal to non-existent except in extreme cases. Generally, the threat is to a community, city or geographical area as a whole because of proximity to a particular landmark, building or event.
Large metropolitan areas are always a target for nuclear, chemical and biological attacks because of population density. Large crowds and symbolic events anywhere in the country are also a target, which was proven by recent events in Boston Massachusetts.
Specific targets in your area may include federal prisons or hospitals where terrorist or other high profile individuals are housed or treated. Federal buildings and in particular federal courthouses where trials are being conducted are targets as well. Examples of symbolic targets might be the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Mall of America and so forth.
2. Assessing the Impact
Aside from loss of life and injury to you and your family, the impacts of any disaster can include power/utilities disruptions and damaged infrastructure, which means bridges, highways and roads, may be impassable. You can expect retail/commercial establishments to be closed and if the disaster extends for any period, you can expect civil unrest (demonstrations and riots).
Panic and the urge to flee will be a common reaction and thus must be accounted for. You can expect that any road or highway that is passable will become a disaster area in and of itself because of the sheer volume of vehicles. At some point in the days after a crisis, you are not trying to survive the disaster but the effects of the disaster.
Marshal Law can be enacted by the state or the federal government, which means your city, town or community can be quarantined if there is a biological attack. This means you would not likely be able to evacuate. Travel would be restricted if not denied entirely and federal troops would have the power to enforce local laws.
At some point, the crisis will become less of a danger and your fellow citizens will become the biggest threat to you, your family and possessions.
3. Plan Accordingly
As stated earlier most of your emergency supplies and preparations would not be disaster specific. However, there are materials and equipment you would need to survive certain disasters such as chemical, nuclear or biological attacks.
If you live a rural area then chemical or biological attacks would not be as likely because of less population density. You would however have to deal with the mass exodus of people fleeing the metropolitan areas. You may have friends and family that have to evacuate certain areas so you will have to plan your supplies accordingly. You have to account for friends, neighbors and family not living with you and even strangers needing supplies.
If you feel your area is susceptible to chemical, biological or nuclear attacks you will need a shelter and/or protective clothing that is designed to protect you. Clothing would be protective suits and respirators, and independent oxygen sources. Shelters can include underground bunkers, or buildings designed above ground that can protect you against fallout/airborne contaminates. Nuclear fallout can travel up to several hundred miles if conditions are right. Basements can be used for shelter if they can be sealed off to prevent airborne contaminates from entering.
In theory, anything can happen anywhere but you have to assess the threats to determine what is most likely to happen because you simply cannot prepare for every possible scenario.
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