What are you preparing for?

Your environment

What do you know about the space around you? It seems like a fairly obvious question to ask doesn’t it? Do you have factories near to where you live? What type of home do you have? Are you in a high-rise building or do you live in an isolated cottage.

Where you live, and the type of home in which you live can have a great effect upon your preparedness planning.

Unless you are extremely wealthy, you only have a finite amount of resources available to you for your preparedness planning. So how do you know what to spend your money on? How can you get the most benefit for your money? Watching television programmes and videos online, many people seem to be preparing for the ‘end of the world as we know it’. They have invested thousands upon thousands in things like underground shelters, bomb proof shelters or vehicles any third world military can only dream of owning. If you want to spend your money that’s fine. It is your choice. But would you really be getting value for the money you spent? 

Preparedness plans cannot be put into place overnight. They need careful consideration and you will need to be careful about what you spend your limited resources on.

Prioritising your resources and actions

Having accepted you have limited resources like so many people, how do you (a) decide what to prepare for and (b) what counter-measures you put into place?

The Risk Matrix

The easiest way to determine what you need to prepare for is to develop a Risk Matrix. 

OK, that is a very flash term so what does it mean?

Essentially a Risk Matrix is a two dimensional grid where we consider two factors:

  1. How likely is it for something to happen?
  2. What would the impact on your life if it did happen?
Risk Matrix

Time for a list

Before you can complete the Risk Matrix, you need to get started on a list of risk factors. You may find it useful to create separate matrices for each location:

  • Home
  • Work
  • Commuting Routes

For each Risk Matrix list all the risk factors for that location you can think of. You will find that you keep adding to this list as time goes by so don’t worry if you don’t think you have caught them all in one planning session. 

Some risk factors for your home you may wish to consider are:

  • Loss of mains electricity
    • For less than 24 hours
    • For more than 24 hours but less than 72 hours
    • For more than 72 hours
  • Loss of mains gas supply
    • For less than 24 hours
    • For more than 24 hours but less than 72 hours
    • For more than 72 hours
  • Failure of mains water supply
    • For less than 24 hours
    • For more than 24 hours but less than 72 hours
    • For more than 72 hours
  • Contaminated mains water supply
  • Loss of job / employment
  • Roof leak
  • Ruptured water pipe
  • Car crash (eg. a vehicle crashes into your parked car or house) 
  • Long term critical illness (you or a family member)
  • Nearby building or factory fire
  • Flooding
  • Chemical release (eg. from a nearby industrial estate)
  • Banking and cashpoint failures
  • Public transport cancellations

I am sure it is already apparent that the risk factors in the real world are nothing like TV programmes like to put into their shows. This list is just the beginning and there will be factors that are specific to your own circumstances.

Once you have your initial list, give each entry a number. Then go through the list line by line. Think about two things for each entry. How likely is it to happen? What is the impact on your life if it does happen? Once you have decided each of those, use the Risk Matrix and place the number into position.

Risk Matrix with risk factors placed

As you continue down your list, plotting the risk factors onto the Risk Matrix, you will find you build up a picture similar to this.

Risk Matrix with Zoned factors

You may find your Risk Matrix looks quite full by the time you are done, so how do you know which risk factors you need to mitigate and put counter-measures in first for?

The Risk Matrix shown above has three zones that follow the traffic light colours of Red, Amber and Green. The Red zone is where you need to concentrate your efforts and resources on first. This is because the risk factors in the Red Zone have a medium to high likelihood of actually happening and have a medium to high impact on your life if they do occur. These are the events that could cause real harm and disruption in your life. 

Once you have dealt with everything in the Red zone, move on to the Amber then Green.

Review your Risk Matrix

Like the world around you keeps changing, so do the risks around you. You should review your Risk Matrix on a regular basis. How often you do this is up to you, but it could be as often as weekly, or perhaps monthly or quarterly. The important thing is to ensure that it remains up-to-date and relevant. 

Keeping it real world

By now you will have realised that the things on your list, whilst perhaps not as big and exciting as what you will have seen on TV programmes, but are certainly a lot more relevant to your life and that of your family.

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