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Site Threats And Responses

Site Threats And Responses

There simply aren’t that many places to live in the world that are entirely devoid of threats. Most of us have to deal with multiple threats in the region we choose to call home. In a lot of cases, threats go hand-in-hand with the advantages that attract us to particular places. Love skiing? Living close to the mountains puts you at risk from ice storms, blizzards, and avalanches. There are similar tradeoffs involved in a lot of desirable areas, including the seafront, forests, and heavily urbanized cities. Site threats are simply a  fact of life; it’s how you choose to prepare for these threats that matters.

Security professionals – both private contractors and government personnel guarding embassies and military bases – use a procedure called a site threat assessment to catalog all of the potential risks they need to be concerned about in a particular location. Planning responses to each potential problem is an integral part of the process. Survivalists are used to doing something similar, although in our community the most common term is “site threat awareness response.” We use the word “awareness” to recognize the fact that dangers are always present where we live. Concentrating on the “response” is an effective way to minimize the risk we’re exposed to.

Sometimes the appropriate response to a site threat is obvious. If your city is built on a floodplain, you know that you need to pick out a house on higher ground in order to avoid flooding. To run with that example for a moment, if you find your circumstances constrained and you’re forced to live in a floodable area, you can at least mitigate the amount of damage a flood will cause by moving as many important possessions as possible to higher floors. If you go through multiple floods in your present location, though, consider moving to higher ground instead of rebuilding.

Being aware of the threats you face is often the easiest part of making yourself prepared. A lot of dangers are obvious and inescapable. If there’s a nuclear plant right down the street or you live on top of an active fault, there’s no question about the types of threats you need to consider. You’ll need to spend the majority of your time and effort on preparing your response rather than assessing threats. Do everything you can to prepare yourself for dealing with threats you know are likely. In most cases, part of this preparation should include having an advanced plan to escape from the danger zone.

To return to the possibility of flooding mentioned above, let’s examine steps you could take in order to minimize the amount of damage caused by water and to keep your family safe.

  • Find out if your community faces floods regularly. The websites of your local government (city hall, county seat, etc.) should have applicable information on the subject.
  • Prioritize your flood preparations, dividing up key tasks into pre-flood, flood, and post-flood categories.

People who want to protect their property have a number of easy steps to take in order to be prepared for adversity. Basic repair supplies for a quake can easily be stockpiled; key examples include nail guns, tarps, boards, and staple guns. Critical papers that can’t be easily replaced can be protected from damage. It’s also important for sensible homeowners to learn a bit about their utility systems – principally their gas and electrical lines – so that they can shut these off in case of an emergency.

Trailer owners who live in tornado-prone regions have a similar reason to be prepared. Of course, there’s no truth to the oft-repeated myth that trailer parks actually attract tornados. The light weight and relatively flimsy construction of trailers just make them exceptionally vulnerable to wind damage. If your family lives in such a situation, make sure they’re prepared. Survey your immediate area for safe places to shelter during a tornado. Remember to find shelters near your place of work as well as your home. Everyone in your family should have a prearranged plan for staying safe, getting in touch, and then meeting up in the event of a tornado.

There are some situations where the proper response to a site threat is to get away from the site, i.e., to move out. If this response is economically feasible for you, it’s often the simplest and tidiest way to respond. Be on the lookout for new dangers when you’re relocating to avoid old ones. A lot of people left California to get away from earthquakes. Those that chose to resettle in Washington found a whole new set of site threats waiting for them. These include some serious dangers posed by volcanic activity, including pyroclastic flows. These free-moving streams of hot rock and gas can be immensely destructive. Washington also has to contend with lahars, destructive mudslides that can easily wipe out a home. Make sure you’re not jumping from the frying pan into the fire if you choose to relocate.

There are some threats that fade out of our memory because they’ve haven’t occurred recently. Staying in Washington, there’s a perfect example in the area around Mount Rainier. There are enormous numbers of people living in between the mountain and Puget Sound, and most of them are unaware that lahars are a very real threat in their location. Lahars, caused by a mixture of glacial meltwater and mud, trees, and ash, can be set off by relatively minor volcanic activity. Major lahars are absolutely unstoppable and incredibly destructive. There are two towns in the region – Puyallup and Auburn – that are actually built on top of the remains of old lahars.

Because of the quirks of human psychology, Americans living at the foot of Mount Rainier can read about a horrific lahar killing 20,000 people in South America and never make the connection to the propensity of their own region for the same sort of disaster. Hurricane Katrina showed us that there isn’t any difference between the First and the Third World when a major disaster comes calling. A lot of people follow an unintentional policy of willful ignorance when it comes to the threat of natural disasters. No matter how sturdy and well-built a suburban home is, there are endless different disasters that can wipe it out.

Of course, adjusting your plans to accommodate special needs isn’t always a matter of spending a great deal. You might drop a handful of change at a local garage sale to pick up a sturdy cane for your uncle that has trouble walking. For the time being, it’ll make it easier for him to walk to the grocery store and might even come in handy for keeping a snarling dog at bay. In the event of an emergency, it could turn into a life-save when you need to get that uncle out of harm’s way quickly.

By now it should be quite clear that practically every site has its share of threats, both man-made and natural. The possibility of facing them might be remote or it could be a constant danger. Although it’s impossible to make yourself 100 percent safe, you can do a great deal to protect yourself once you’ve properly identified and planned for the most significant issues your location is facing. Here’s a brief summary of key awareness response points:

  • Leave living below sea level up to the Dutch. If you don’t live in a society that’s prepared for that kind of threat for centuries, the risks involved in living by the waterfront on low ground are simply too great.
  • Don’t live in trailers if your region is prone to tornados or hurricanes. More generally, don’t make your home in a structure that has wheels unless it’s also fully mobile in the event of an emergency.
  • If your area has day-to-day crime problems, be aware that police control is only going to get worse in a genuine crisis. If you’re on constant guard against vandals and robbers, be prepared for assaults and home invasions if things break down.
  • If you have neighbors with dramatic stories about narrowly escaping a natural disaster like a wildfire, a flood, or a tornado, it’s a sign that your area is unsafe.
  • Check the oldest buildings in your community for watermarks from flooding. Make your home in an area that’s at least 20 feet higher than the highest watermarks.
  • If your most convenient local walking excursion is a gentle stroll to the ocean or the river, relocate to a place that features tougher uphill hiking.
  • Be very wary if environmental restrictions get in the way of your site threat awareness response plans. If you can’t clear the brush around your home because of an endangered species and you’re worried about wildfires, moving may be your only options.
  • Pay attention to local politics. If your civic leaders are inept when dealing with day-to-day management, they’re going to be useless in a crisis.
  • Pay attention to local politics. If your civic leaders are inept when dealing with day-to-day management, they’re going to be useless in a crisis.
  • Read up on a city’s history before you move there. If you come across phrase to a shooting range, the sound of gunfire is a sign that you need to relocate.
  • Check your neighborhood for industrial properties. If there’s a major site full of storage tanks and other heavy equipment that’s surrounded by barbed wire fences and other security measures, you may want to live somewhere else. These sorts of facilities clearly present a danger even during the best of times. What risks will they expose you to in the event of an earthquake, flood, fire, or power outage?
  • The same industrial caution goes for living close to any site that has posted warnings about chemicals, flammables, or other major threats. The presence of evacuation routes specifically designed for industrial emergencies is another very bad sign.

Even though this advice might seem like a combination of plain common sense and, perhaps, cynicism, pay attention to the victims you see on the news during a natural disaster. So many of them use the word “shocked” over and over to describe their reaction to the incident. This happens even though the vast majority of threats are predictable.

You may not always be able to respond to a clear threat by moving away from it. As discussed above, there are always threats to be wary of, so you may have to make a choice between which ones you live with. In any case, understanding the nature of the danger and preparing for it is vital.

Don’t forget one last important factor when you’re picking a place to live: emergency response times. EMS, firefighters, and police in every community do a better job of reaching emergency calls in some areas than they do in others. Sometimes the areas that enjoy fast responses are also very dangerous, but this is not always the case. Keep in mind you should think of first responders as helpful additions to your own safety plans; hoping for outside help cannot be the beginning and end of your response plan.

Survival Self Defense - How to protect yourself and your family
Survival Self Defense - How to protect yourself and your family

Discover the secrets to defending yourself and your family when disaster strikes!