Lately, a lot of people sent me emails asking what they should prepare for and if I can spare some tips for beginners. The answer to their question is never easy. I tell them that they should start first by making a threat analysis.
I wanted to write this article in order to help those who are starting their prepping journey, but also for those who think they have everything figured out.
Since my bug-out timeline was appreciated by many of our readers, I wanted to share some insights about how I’ve made my threat analysis when I started prepping. This may seem simple for some, but it will be a much-needed help for most of the preppers out there who are trying to figure out what disaster scenario to prep for.
The life of a prepper
When people start prepping, they are told there are dozens of things that are important and need to be done as soon as possible. Things like making a bug out bag, buying food and water to last for a few months, building an emergency pantry in the basement and what not. All of this becomes incredibly overwhelming and confusing for someone who is just starting with emergency preparedness.
Even for the rest of us, there are times in which we have to decide what to do first. The reality is that most of the people will just flip a coin and let chance decide the road ahead.
There is a much simpler way to start with all of this. It’s a technique used by decision-makers to analyze risk and decide what order they should follow. It’s not a big secret and it is called prioritization.
You are doing this every day of your life and there are many examples of how one will prioritize his action based on the situation he has to face. As a quick example, think about every time you pay your bills. You will decide which of the needs have to be addressed first when all the bills are competing for your limited budget. In most cases, electricity and rent will get priority over food or new clothes.
Related reading: Useful Strategies To Pay Down Debt
When I’ve worked for a big media corporation, we were required to participate in all sorts of productivity training. Some of those lessons remained with me and are helping me even today. Back then, I was dividing all of my working time in four different quadrants. By doing so I was helping myself to categorize task and focus on what is important. Here is how my work threat analysis used to look when I had a desk job:
These were important and urgent tasks, things such as crises or deadline projects. The types of things that you cannot fix if you don’t have a risk management plan. You spend your time trying to reduce the damage or figure out temporary solutions.
These were the important and not urgent task, things like planning projects, preventing project blockers, networking, etc. The type of things that require most of your time and concentration, and overall, will increase productivity.
These were the urgent but unimportant tasks, such as interruptions or meetings that could have been replaced by a well-thought mass email. The type of things that slow you down and mess up your work schedule.
These were not urgent and not important tasks. The time wasters we all have, such as Facebook or long coffee breaks.
I’ve applied the same principle when I started prepping. I had to determine and decide on what was the most important or critical event for me at that time. In time, I’ve optimized my threat analysis to be more coherent, as you will see in the following lines.
Most people fail to realize that the most urgent task may not be the biggest task when it comes to prepping and relatively small tasks may need to be completed before anything else. This is why you need to know what a threat analysis is and how to make one.
Threat analysis – understanding the importance of probability, severity and onset to establish priority
Every manager uses two main factors when it comes to evaluate and prioritize risks and actions: probability and severity. These two factors are the main components of a threat analysis, regardless of the job field of the leader.
Probability calculates how likely it is for something to happen and severity calculates the magnitude of the impact if it happens. While these two components are a good start, a prepper will need a third one in order to make an efficient threat analysis.
The third component in our case is onset, which addresses the lead time, if any, you may have to prepare for the event. The lead time is the time between the starting point of the event and the completion of the event.
Suggested reading: Disaster strikes – What to do?
By assigning a numerical value to these three components you can calculate a number you can use to establish a priority for the crisis scenario you intend to prep for. For example, if you live in Ferguson, Missouri and you are trying to decide if you should prepare for a social upheaval or do something to prepare for the Ebola virus. You will likely pick the riot over the pandemic.
While the severity can be just as bad for both scenarios and can happen without a prior warning, past events showed us that the probability of civil unrest is much higher than being affected by a disease that is spread through physical contact.
The formula for establishing a threat priority is the following:
Priority = Probability X Severity X Onset
Following a similar logic, you can start by making a list of things that can affect you personally and in your community. Then move up to state and regional scenarios. You can close the list with national and international events such as a global economic collapse.
You can build a prioritization matrix for your threat analysis in order to see things clearer. Fill in the values for each event and calculate the priority as seen in the example provided below. After you have filled in your threat analysis matrix, you can sort the scenarios by priority. Get the list ordered by rank, showing you what to work on first, second and so on.
Once you have your threat analysis matrix ordered by priority you can prepare for what is most important for you right now. You will be able to use all your resources for that scenario. There will be situations where there is more than one threat competing for your attention, but you shouldn’t despair. The beauty with emergency preparedness is that the preparations you make and the resources you accumulate can be used for more than one scenario.
Use logic to tackle the main scenarios that compete for your attention and act based on the time you have. For example, if you wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a home invasion. What do you do first: deal with the intruders, call the police or get everyone to safety? In this scenario probability, severity and onset are all at their highest level.
To deal with this type of situation you should do the following:
- Do what needs to be done to separate you and your loved ones from your threat. Get everyone out of the house or go to your panic room.
- If you can’t do the first step, you need to minimize or neutralize the threat. Using your firearms to make the invaders flee or stopping them for good are your main options.
- Any other action can wait until later. Things like calling the police department or asking help from neighbors.
The same logic can be applied to almost all threats that you might face and it’s a course of action that will keep you and your loved ones safe.
If you are new to preparedness, you can use the information provided in this article to identify the different scenarios you might want to prepare for.
A threat analysis can help even the most advanced preppers to organize and prioritize resources for the threats identified as the most probable ones. I think it is always better to stop and rethink your priorities since times are changing fast. You might need to shift gears to work on something else.
Other Useful Resources:
Bullet Proof Home (Learn how to Safeguard your Home)
The LOST WAYS (Survival Lessons from our grandparents that we should all know)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Mega-Drought USA (How to secure unlimited fresh, clean water)
5 thoughts on “Prepper’s Threat Analysis – Establishing Prepping Priorities”
I suspect this is the most useful post most of us will ever seen regarding being ready/prepared. There are a 100 different ways the information contained here is correct. If we don’t know what we are preparing for, then there is no way to know if we are prepared. You can use different multipliers (examples: frequency; likelihood) to customize your results. My answer to people who ask what to prepare for. I tell them to prepare for the threat they face next. If your biggest threat is loss of job/income, then prepare to find a new job and live without income; if your threat is weather then prepare for weather events. Only you know your situation, only you know your variables and weaknesses. Spend some time doing some critical thinking regarding your situation and your environment. Analyze it, identify your weak points, and work to improve them. Note to the author: Nice job.
We here in Evergreen, Va just experienced a Deadly (EF-3) tornado wiped us almost off the map—being Prepared for this (NO WE WEREN”T) but we are cleaning up with much help, from outlying communities. thanks to all that are helping,.
The tornado threat is real but low. In much of the country you are more likely to be hit by a blizzard, ice storm, lighting or a hail storm. However the damage from a tornado or fire is different from pipes freezing or power being out. Also the time of year affects how a given event threatens your survival.
These threat analysis charts make sense to me except for actually assigning the first 2 numbers. Is that something that is intuitive based on past experience or is there a criteria for assigning the numbers. Thanks.
I figured it out.