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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Low-Probability High-Consequence Events

This entry is for the more advanced reader.

The Basics
We all take basic precautions. We store some extra food, water and medicine. We have flashlights and radios and batteries. We employ prudent security measures. We have contact lists and plans to get home during emergencies. We learn to do things for ourselves. We carry “fire and steel” and other goodies that will help mitigate any problems that we could encounter as we go about our daily lives. Maybe we grow a vegetable garden. And by so doing, we are ahead of a large percentage of the population.

By taking these basic preparedness steps we are in a good position to handle any problems that are likely to come down the pike. If you are in this company - Congratulations, you will probably make it. You are prepared for what I call High to Medium Probability Events. Things like blizzards, floods, temporary breakdown of services caused by anything from a gas shortage to a Teamsters’ strike. Heck, you are even prepared for a terrorist attack that temporarily impacts on your life. You have stuff. It’s probably at home. And home is where you are going to stay come Hell or high water. If your home burns down due to a lighting strike – well, you’ve got insurance and family near by to stay with until you get a new house built. Again – Good Job – you will likely come through just fine anything thrown at you.

See, you will likely come through because you are prepared for likely events. You are miles ahead of your neighbors because they don’t even like to think about the things you are prepared for. You have accepted that those things are possible – even likely over the span of time and you have taken steps to mitigate any problems. Great. Do not allow yourself to become smug.

Just when you think you have it whickered – Murphy shows up. And he usually brings friends. I am speaking of - you got it: Low-Probability High-Consequence Events. WHAT IF nukes went off 300 miles up wind of your homestead and lethal fallout was rapidly approaching?

“But Joe, there are no nuclear targets there!”

WHAT IF the bad guys were aiming for something else and missed?

WHAT IF the 4th Mongolian Horde (Airborne) parachuted in 20 miles east of you and started moving west?

“That’s ridiculous, Joe!”

Uh, huh – tell that to the Georgians.
Or the Bosnians.
Or the Christians in Sudan.

WHAT IF your house burned down for a totally “normal” reason and, as you were watching the firemen save your foundation, TEOTWAWKI happened (pick your own scenario this time).

We don’t like thinking about those things, do we?
It makes all of the steps we have taken, all of the work we have done, all of the plans (most of us) have made kinda moot – doesn’t it?

In scenarios like these, we become like the sheeple we scoff at. THEY don’t want to consider some type of emergency where .gov does not come rescue them. They think planning for that is ridiculous. They really don’t think it’s ridiculous – they are afraid to embrace the monster. In cases like these – so are we.

Embrace the Monster
I encourage you to think about what would “rock your world” (that would be High Consequence) and think through how you would deal with it. I encourage you to take steps now to help mitigate what you would face.

This is where PACE planning comes in. Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency. If it’s easier for you to think of it as Plans A through D that’s okay with me. Whenever you have a Plan A – develop a Plan B. When you have that set up, ask yourself, WHAT IF that didn’t work and take more steps along the path.

Do not rest on your laurels.
Can you prepare for everything? Probably not.

Can you prepare for more than you are prepared for now?
You know the answer.


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