Triggers are an event, or events, that should cause you to take some actions. By identifying triggers, together with a pre-planned action or response, you will be ahead of the curve in terms of being prepared for an event as well as your response.
Part of your planning should include a threat and hazard identification and risk assessment (THIRA). This is an emergency management risk assessment that local agency conduct every few years and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) produces a Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) on how local jurisdictions should conduct a THIRA. If you can obtain a copy of your local THIRA from your local emergency management agency and use it to determine hazards and threats in your jurisdiction it will save you a lot of work.
The process has several steps:
- Identify the threats and hazards
- Give the threats and hazards context
- Establish capability targets (what you need to mitigate, protect and recover from the event)
Identify the threats and hazards
Threats and hazards fall into three categories
- Natural – acts of nature
- Technological – accidents or failures of systems and structures
- Human-caused – intentional actions
Threats and hazards by category
|Avalanche||Dam failure||Active shooter incident|
|Drought||Hazardous materials release||Armed assault|
|Earthquake||Industrial accident||Biological attack|
|Epidemic||Levee failure||Chemical attack|
|Flood||Mine accident||Cyber-attack against data|
|Hurricane / Typhoon||Pipeline explosion||Cyber-attack against infrastructure|
|Space weather||Radiological release||Explosives attack|
|Tornado||Train derailment||Improvised nuclear attack|
|Tsunami||Transportation accident||Nuclear terrorism attack|
|Volcanic eruption||Urban conflagration||Radiological attack|
|Winter storm||Utility disruption|
Likelihood of Events
Determine which events are likely to happen in your area. Once you do this determine the likelihood of that event happening.
If you do not have a train line near you then the likelihood of a rail incident is zero. If you have a rail line then determine if just has passenger trains or has freight trains. If it has freight trains then you could have hazardous materials and event radiological events in the event of a rail accident.
If you are near major highways then you could have hazardous materials or radiological hazards.
Give the Threats and Hazards Context
Once you have determine the likelihood of an event you need to determine the impact of it.
To help break down this process we look at:
- Time of the incident
If you are near a major highway but prevailing winds are normally away from you then the impact might be low. However, if that highway is the only way into and out of your neighborhood the impact could be high if the road is blocked for some time. Similarly with a rail line if you have to cross it to get into and out of your neighborhood.
In the next few days there will be a more in-depth article for Patron subscribers on how to conduct your own full THIRA>
In the THIRA process we establish capability, that is what do we need to do or have to mitigate, respond to and recover from the event or incident.
In the preparedness context we should still do this, but from the context of our family or mutual assistance group (MAG).
If a power outage is rated as high because of historical events then your mitigation and preparedness should include having backup power such as a generator, solar panels, rechargeable batteries, etc. If the historical events have been long then your planning should account for that and have a generator of sufficient size that it can power your freezer, fridge and other critical needs.
Plaining Your Preps
Determining capabilities needed to mitigate, respond and recover from an event also allows you to identify gaps in your preparedness and determine priorities.
If a prolonged power outage is high and you don’t have a generator you might get along for a short time without one. However, if they have been historically long and your heat requires electricity then a generator might be higher on your purchase list.
If you are prone to severe weather, such as hurricanes, and evacuation isn’t an option, the probability of prolonged, as in weeks, of no power are probably very high.
Determine Triggers & Actions
Having conducted our THIRA we can now determine triggers.
If there is an imminent threat of a severe hurricane our trigger might be the 5-day forecast from the National Hurricane Center. If we have purchased a generator the trigger could mean we get plywood to secure windows, and possibly extra fuel as well as test the generator and associated power hook-ups.
If we have not been able to purchase a generator then it could me we move to an alternate location.
By having that ‘early’ trigger, and not waiting until 3-days before landfall, we will be ahead of 90% of the population.
National Level Triggers
While the THIRA process allows us to identify local triggers there are national level trigger we should consider in our planning. These are typically a major event, or an indicator of such, that might warrant us taking some action.
A good example of this is the recent COVID pandemic. An early trigger might be the initial reports of the event. Actions could be to purchase additional masks, hand sanitizer, cleaner and toilet paper 🙂
Notification of additional lockdowns could be that you stock up on additional last minute food items that your budget will allow. A national truck strike could result in the same actions.
Another trigger could be the stock market closing early because there is a run on stocks. An action could be to pull additional cash out of the bank.
In the event of, or imminent threat of, a declaration of marshal law could trigger you to make sure your vehicles are fueled, pull extra cash out of your bank and event head to an alternate location if you have one.
Preparedness Conditions (PREP-CON)
Once you have done all this work you can group your triggers and actions based on the severity. These become preparedness conditions.
I have done this and created a PREP-CON mind map, available in poster sizes in the store.
PREP-CON 5 is the lower level, close to normal (BLUE SKY). There are no specific triggers but actions include rotating supplies, addition to supplies where needed, training and exercising skills such as medical, communications, etc. Planning actions include developing our communications plan, including one-time pad skills, making sure our family plan is up to date and, of course, re-evaluating the THIRA and our area intelligence assessment (see the offers on the affiliate page)
PREP-CON 4 is an increased level or INCIDENT POSSIBLE (ORANGE SKY). Triggers include severe weather events or possible future events. Actions include increased monitoring of various sources and maintenance and testing on equipment.
PREP-CON 3 is INCIDENT PROBABLE (BROWN SKY). Triggers include persistent widespread cyber attacks and recall of all USGOC non-essential personnel and families from foreign countries. Actions include notifications to our MAG, standing up a local net (radio, secure voice/data) and checking all Get Home and Bug Out bags.
PREP-CON 2 is INCIDENT IMMINENT (GRAY SKY). Triggers include rapid devaluation of currency, widespread terrorist events, outbreak of deadly contagious disease and recall of all USGOV personnel. Actions include distributing additional OTP’s, reviewing all communications procedures with MAG and family, purchasing any last minute supplies and maintaining level 1 personal defense readiness.
PREP-CON 1 is an ACTIVE INCIDENT (BLACK SKY). Triggers at this level are no-notice events such as an EMP or sudden announcement of marshal law, travel restrictions, etc. Actions include immediate bugging out or sheltering in place depending on your situation, initiating “go-code” with MAG if part of your plan, and establishing communications nets with MAG.
The full PREP-CON chart is in the store.
While the THIRA process may seem tedious it is a VERY IMPORTANT step in preparing for the right events that could impact you or your family.
I see a lot of posts where people ask what they should prepare for for the “big one”. Truth is that is a small possibility, but high impact, event. There are many more daily or seasonal events that can effect us that have a higher probability and still a significant impact.
This process will allow you to identify gaps in your preps and planning, and take corrective actions BEFORE an event.
Discussing triggers and actions and having a WRITTEN plan allows you, your family and MAG to pre-decide actions so you are not scrambling at the last minute.