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Quick References

The Probability Spectrum of Disasters

rainbowThe probability spectrum of disasters isn’t anything new but it does bear being reminded of from time to time. In fact, I did not come up with the idea on my own. I’m sure I’ve seen it elsewhere before but the first time I remember hearing of it was from Jack Spirko of TheSurvivalPodcast.com and more recently in this SurvivalistBoards thread.

What is it?

It is simply the act of thinking and planning about emergency situations given the likelihood of them occurring to you. This makes perfect sense to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read on forums or other blogs posts where somebody–usually a prepping newcomer but it could be anyone–talk about a singular threat that they’re sure is going to happen and that everything they want to know is how to prepare for that one event. The threat of an EMP is a prime example.

While I understand how this can happen to someone, it’s completely illogical to think this way. For one, if you’re prepared for life in general then you will most likely be prepared for any disaster that you can deal with and two, preparing for a singular threat is probably not the disaster that’s going to happen to you… it’s just math.

Instead, the best way to prepare yourself and your family is to use the probability matrix, sphere, hierarchy, or whatever you prefer to call it. The thinking is that you should prepare yourself for personal disasters first, local disasters second, regional third, and nationwide (or even worldwide) last. At least, that’s the way I see it.

Still not convinced?

Ask yourself this: does it make more sense to prepare yourself for a job loss (a personal disaster) or pandemic (national disaster)? If you look at the likelihood of these two very distinct scenarios happening to you, I think it’s safe to assume that a job loss is more likely and, therefore, should be prepared for first. Well, that’s the idea, anyway.

Fortunately, many disasters have very common needs, such as water, food, shelter, heating, etc. Sure, some have very specific needs such as an EMP needing appropriate shielding for your gear or a pandemic maybe requiring quality face masks or sheltering in place. But, if you prepare for life in general then you should be fairly well prepared for most anything and, equally important, if you choose to focus on more likely disasters first then you’ll have given yourself the best possible chance for overcoming it.

Here’s the spectrum as I see it and some examples…

  • Personal disasters are the most likely statistically and affect nobody besides you and your family (not even the neighbors). Examples include job loss, injury (requiring serious medical attention or inability to work), home fire, robbery, chronic illness. Prepare for these possibilities first because they’re most likely.
  • Local disasters could be anything that affects your neighborhood or maybe even a city. Perhaps it’s a boil water order or maybe a tornado that wipes out a town (e.g., tornado that hit Greensburg, Kansas a few years ago).
  • Regional disasters are what most people think of when we discuss disasters. These could affect a wide range of people and often result in the declaration of a Presidential Disaster Order. Examples include a hurricane (e.g., Hurricane Sandy) or the winter blizzard that affected the northeast for weeks on end several years ago. They affect a wide range of people.
  • National disasters (or worldwide) are statistically least likely to occur to YOU (in your lifetime) but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen. Examples include a pandemic (e.g., 1918 Spanish flu or the Bubonic Plague that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages) or even the possibility of an EMP from a rouge nation or perhaps the sun. These are the least likely events to occur.

I’m not saying you can’t or should not prepare for a pandemic or EMP, not at all. Just don’t choose to start there if you’re not ready for the more likely scenarios. And, like I said earlier, many of your needs will overlap. Food storage will always be useful if you can’t buy groceries for a few weeks due to a job loss or an EMP wipes out the grid and semi-trucks aren’t hauling goods for months on end.

Hope that helps you get your priorities in order!

1 comment to The Probability Spectrum of Disasters

  • Pam

    Truly, truly! Wouldn’t you hate to starve to death in an underground faraday cage, wearing worn out shoes and a gas mask while it’s being repossessed for back property taxes?