3 Types Of Disaster – Understanding Your Vulnerability


The way I see it, there are three high-level types, or categories, of disasters. Natural, Technological, Intentional. Each potentially causing damage to infrastructure, property, lives.

Natural Disaster

Extreme heat
Volcanic eruptions
Winter storms
Solar flare, CME

Technological Disaster

Hazardous material event
Nuclear power plant accident
Cyber (unintentional or otherwise)
Power Grid failure

Intentional Disaster

Explosive weapons

Key Elements of Disaster

Regardless of the event, disasters have several key elements in common:

  1. They can be very unexpected, although some are forewarned.

2. Help, Emergency responders, and Services may be unavailable and/or overwhelmed.

3. Lives, Health, and the Environment may be endangered.

4. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, needs are often greater than what others can provide.

Understanding Your Vulnerability

Assess your own vulnerability. This will enable you to prioritize preparedness measures and to target effective actions.

It is useful to:

  • Identify the most common disasters that occur
  • Identify possible hazards with most severe impact
  • Consider recent and/or historical impacts
  • Consider what to expect for disruption impact (e.g. services and length of restoration)

Examples of Possible Damage to Infrastructure


  • Inability to assess damage
  • Inability to escape or evacuate the area
  • Emergency Services prevented from reaching victims
  • Police prevented from reaching areas of civil unrest
  • Fire departments prevented from getting to fires
  • Flow of needed supplies (food, water, etc.) is interrupted
  • Roads are closed and/or impassable


  • Damaged critical facilities unable to function normally (e.g., airports, hospitals)

Communication Systems

  • Victims unable to call for help
  • Families and friends cannot communicate
  • Emergency services communications possibly disrupted


  • Loss of electrical service
  • Damaged water infrastructure
  • Increased risk of fire or electrical shock
  • Limited access to fuel, e.g., pumps that may not work
  • Loss of contact between victims and service providers

Water Service

  • Inadequate water flow, which results in notice to boil water and hampered firefighting capabilities
  • Increased risk to public health

Fuel Supplies

  • Increased risk of fire or explosion from fuel line rupture

Financial Services

  • ATM machines do not work
  • Credit card systems inoperable

What’s the point? Well, as I often do here, to get people thinking about preparedness. There are different kinds of disasters. Some more likely than others. All of those threats have various probabilities actually happening. We most often make our preparations based on the most likely cases first, because some of them are quite remote. 

Just spend a little time thinking about your own regional or personal odds of any given disaster. Many things are out of your control. However you ARE in control of your preparedness.


  1. Excellent article to get us thinking. One thing I have done is separate my stuff into different areas around the homestead. In case of building collapse or whatever, we may not be able to access things in the basement. Grab and go stuff is more prominent also. This month I am rotating more stock that has slipped from normal rotation. Have to get better about that. But no matter what kind of disaster or trouble hits our area, I think I will still have to contend with “neighbors” that refuse to prepare at all. And I already know from past behavior that they will be “takers.” No doubt about it.

  2. Does anyone have any thought on a hyperinflation/currency collapse scenario with regards to paying real estate taxes? I have been thinking about this, but haven’t had time to look at historical examples for how people in those situations handled this.

    If the currency collapses, I figure taxes don’t just go away. Even if I set aside the usual amount, will the taxes get hyperinflated, too? It seems like it’s in the technocrat plan to take over rural land and force people into more easily controllable cities. How would one prepare for this? Thanks.

    1. I have no wisdom on the taxes as far as inflation, etc., but can tell you I’m peeved.
      Typical house in typical suburb in the Midwest. Our house supposedly increased 70k in value!? Taxes up to almost $5K. Elderly next door neighbor – his taxes increased from $4k to $7k! Meanwhile, our county has been pouring money into the programs helping those that get a lot of “free” to begin with.
      My hubby gets irritated when I keep reciting “if we won’t willingly redistribute income, they’ll do it for us”.
      Oh, and no inperson disputing either due to Wuhan.
      My brother’s county inflated his value, too. They said they could see extra things added via drone or Google Earth or something.
      Sorry for the vent.
      We have savings planned for taxes, but now that they and the related increased insurance will be higher than the mortgage itself…

      1. I should really point out OHIO, so not an expensive Midwest area like Chicago.

      2. For the life of me can’t figure out how to edit.
        We only own 1.5 acres, as well as aforementioned neighbor. Neighbor on other side is 40 acres. Two doors down, 23 acres. This used to be a rural area but farm families sold off a lot, so now developments are ongoing.

    2. OH,

      So….grow grain and make hooch? ;-)

      Have thought about the PMs for that, but don’t know if that would be accepted. It might not be the safest thing, either, as it would immediately mark the bearer as someone who has ‘stuff’ and should be visited in the wee hours. There are some risks that might be unavoidable, I guess.

      1. Farmgirl hooch has and will be an excellent trade item. Even George Washington had to deal with the Whiskey Rebellion while trying to collect “Taxes” from the frontiersmen. Whiskey was the trade money of the frontier. Far more valuable than Deer Hides.

        The ability to provide something of value to gain the local trade “moneys” is how my Grandparents kept the farm during the Great Depression. What is the difference between the cost of a single seed Vs a ready to transplant tomato plant? What is the value of a fertile egg Vs that of a ready to lay Pullet? Granddads Green thumb and Grandma’s Chicken House kept the household in both food and “Money”.

        PM’s ASSUME some sort of Rule of Law. No rule of law then the Government is at best a gang of thugs “Collecting Taxes” and even then unless true chaos some sort of “Value” is available to “Pay Taxes”. Thus my comment about local trade moneys.

      2. That goes with anything— hooch, food, grain seeds, equipment, gas, what essential items they don’t have, they will want yours. I’ll go with the PM’s. Easier to hide than a can of gas, a cabinet of food, a 20# bag of seed, or your chickens.

        In an economic crash, Gold and silver has represented our monetary currency for over a thousand years, so it’s likely to be accepted or exchanged for currency at exchanges as they are now and were in Roman and Greek times …unless the situation is too dire for society to exist and no taxes or bills will exist either..

      3. Oldhomestearder,

        Why not real weeds too? My great grandma made dandelion wine and how about homesteader honey from them yeller flowers, clover and fireweed? And leaves and roots of dandelion?. How about lambsquarters, wild rose petals and hips? also pineapple weed for dried tea related to chamomile, Thistles, plantain, cattail and wild wintergreen?

        The hungry hoards won’t know they are food. Shhhhh, it’s a secret only we country folk know from the old ways…

        1. Oldhomestearder,

          Birds of a feather…teachers were Navaho, Chiricahua Apache, Lakota, Ojibwe, Papago, and Caddo besides my old family members. Must give my mother most the credit to keep an open mind to explore possibilities.

          You know as well as I, wilderness survival is not for most the population, but makes it possible for those who want to learn and apply it.

          Tokhi waniphika ni

        2. The most nutritious plants you can find are weeds, such as Purslane. No zombie will recognize Purslane as one of the best plant foods you can eat…and no plant is easier to grow.

          “Camouflaged Gardens” would be a great book.

        3. Ision,

          All of my boys learned, while working in the garden, how to identify those nutritious plants. Purslane is our favorite! Great raw and in a stir fry. It’s one of few plants that contain Omega-3s. There’s a cultivated variety of Purslane I’ve grown, Golden Purslane, with a more vertical habit and larger ‘leaves’. Good stuff!

    3. Farmgirl, in some counties you are able to pay taxes a year or two ahead. Depends on where you live now. Unfortunately for us, we cannot.

      1. Mom and Dad were trendsetters. They walked into the county offices, cash in hand, and insisted on paying two years. The next year they were going to pay two more years, but the city in the meantime had set rules around it and would only allow one year in advance.

    4. We have our taxes paid a year in advance, as far as the city will allow. Beyond that, having money saved to pay the taxes (not to be used for any other purpose) is important.

      This really isn’t something you can plan for, beyond knowing it might happen.

  3. I just became an ORT. I have been thinking of what and how to respond to a situation where I would be stuck several hundred miles away from my family. How would I get back to them if an EMP was to be set off? Well this is my thoughts. I am going to put together a get home bag. I believe I will purchase a decent back pack in which I will carry a compass, maps, a decent size fixed blade knife, a water filter, a medium size tarp, rope,Small pot, frying pan, various fire starters, a good compact first aid kit, and strap on a good sleeping bag and pad. I will also buy several freeze dried backpacking type meals. I believe I will also buy a good canteen. I always have a multi tool, good boots, a light pair of sneakers, and clothing suited for just about any weather in the lower 48. I am in good physical condition I am a veteran with good survival skills. Can anyone think of anything else I may need, other than good luck, and God’s help?

    1. Joe,

      You may already have this covered, and are not being specific (which is a good thing, on-line!), but some sort of something for self-defense/hunting. And also binoculars for scouting the way ahead.

    2. Folks already answered a hybrid bicycle, I’d add paper maps as so you can figure a route around the troublesome areas you don’t want to pass through. Slime in the tires, a spare tube, a patch kit, an air pump, some light tools a Season appropriate Camouflaged Shelter to hide-rest and you can get though a lot QUICKLY in a bad situation. At least compared to walking with a backpack. A way to bypass fences could be useful as a chain link fence might be the path of least trouble as ambushers tend to seek limited access areas to funnel in the victims.

      Previous recon of the area and alternative routes would be best. Even a Rail Road track CAN be a way to pass through areas that *might* be troublesome. Most folks don’t think of them.

        1. And if you get that bike, I believe they make conversion kits that will allow it to travel on the rails. Might be able to fabricate something if you’re handy.

    3. Joe,
      Pair of wire cutters, maybe side cutter pliers. You never know when you will need to cut a fence to keep from being trapped.

      1. Minerjim my friend did you ever get a bicycle to improve your miles per gallon of drinking water ratio? I can find serviceable klunkers around here for an offer of 20-50 dollars.

        I’d rather roll cross country at 10+ mph then walk at 1-2 miles per hour. Just saying :-)

        I have a folder right now in my trunk. My farthest trip I normally do I can get home in about 2-3 hours barring a nor’easter. Walking would be a two day trip…

    4. Welcome Joe,
      Other suggested items could be: personal hygiene items (they make these cool little wash cloth tablets) and/or cleansing wipes, also a microfiber quick drying towel.You mentioned FD meals, which is great, you may wish to consider honey sticks or something for quick bit of energy that requires no heat/time/set-up (nice thing about honey is that it does not expire).
      Peace and Best to you!

    5. Joe,
      As for the sleeping bag, backpack, a water filter, maybe a stove, Backpacker magazine publishes an annual review of equipment that might help you. I don’t know if this years edition has come out yet, but it will soon and previous year’s are available. Some of the items are very spendy, but you will get ideas on what to look for or avoid.
      A store like REI or Scheels usually can help fit you properly with equipment like boots, backpacks, sleeping bags etc., REI sells bikes, and offers bicycle maintenance classes. Your local bicycle shop or club may also provide this type of information.
      Some people here have recently commented on the book, Going Home by Angry American. Yes, it is fiction but you can learn some good ideas from this book and others like it. I prefer to read books like this one because the main character is away from home and must figure out how to safely navigate his way home. Also, 77 Days in September, by Ray Gorham, and Once Upon an Apocalypse Book 1, Revised edition by Jeff Motes.
      Good luck in your job!

    6. A network of friends ..along your frequently traveled routes.. family , close and distant relatives,,.as a place to stop to rest/recuperate on a long walk/ride home…

    7. Joe,
      Would you need sunscreen, lotion and chapstick if you are out in the weather?

    8. Joe, do you find yourself a distance away from your location for work,family,doctors,stores? I suggest you place caches along the way then. We still maintain caches over 150 miles away. Supplies,food, fuel set in areas to be used to get home.
      That was the concern from 6 plus years ago. Most members and family would be coming from a great distance to reach the safety of our homestead.
      I suggest you look for viable places along the route you think you would be traveling on. Folks have suggested bikes. Great idea. Maybe a small motorcycle is better for your situation. One member of our group kept a motorcycle in a storage center close to his workplace. He figured a motorcycle would be easier to navigate on roads and backroads.
      Only you know your situation…

      1. I agree.

        If you must work at a distance from home, which is often the case in such places as Los Angeles, rent a “bike locker” within easy walking distance and use it. Imagine you are in L.A., and at work, when there is an 8.5 quake. How are you going to get home? How is your spouse going to get home? How are your children going to get home? Each can be 40 to 60 miles away, in various directions, from home.

        People in such situations in Southern California, I always told, your best solution is to move away, but if you can’t…get a storage unit, which is not located within a larger structure, and is free standing…near your non-home locations. Otherwise, do not count on seeing your family together again for days, if ever.

  4. Its always a good idea to go over possibilities, response, preparedness for the various scenarios.
    Obviously its almost impossible to be prepared for everything. And then there are things that there is just no way to really be prepared for, stuff like war, or government going berzerk, I think we are close to that one, but what do you even do about that.
    The real stuff, at least the stuff i can be prepared for, like tsunami, wont wash us away, but ALL infrastructure from power plants to shipping and trucking and distribution infrastructure is in the inundation zone.
    Earthquakes, they have happened.
    Hurricanes, storms, definitely a possibility.
    Just got to be sensible in our AO, We are pretty lucky with a mild climate. Makes a lot of stuff way easier

  5. I would add one thing to consider and that is the likelihood of such an event happening. So if your disaster profile is tornado, hurricane, nuclear, and power grid failure but hurricanes in your area are somewhat rare and nuclear more rare concentrate on the more likely occurring. Also consider items that address multiple disasters. In my made up scenario, power would be an issue in all disasters. So it would make sense to address quickly. Some also add the impact of not being prepared to aid in prioritizing. Not being prepared for a nuclear event would have very grave consequences.

  6. I tend to prioritize things that will cover the maximum number of possibilities. Water will always be needed, whether the disaster is personal or nuclear. Same with food. Beyond that, most disasters will require some kind of cash, whether in small bills or PM’s. Personal disasters also often have a monetary aspect, so savings fits in that category.

    So then, what’s the most likely, and what will fit MOST of the possible disasters? Then work down the list.

    1. Hah,
      After reading several comments, it brings up a good point.

      #4 disaster
      Ever increasing Land taxes

      How does one prep for that?

      1. I don’t know that it’s possible long term. But paying ahead as much as possible (with receipts marked “paid in full” if possible) and keeping some dedicated savings. One thing I intend to do if I ever sell this place–up to half of the sale price will go straight into savings for taxes on whatever I end up buying.

        More and more I find myself thinking about a “new” constitution and what it might consist of. No property taxes for the primary home is prominent.

        1. Lauren
          and others,

          I don’t get it. Seriously.
          Ive seen alot of you saying, pay your land taxes in advance.
          What benefits does a tax payer get?
          You pay in advance, but still owe the balance at the end of the tax year, right?

          Why give the county/city the interest on your paid tax money, when you can do the same…..??

        2. joe c,more time to recover from a bad event…a health crisis, or economic one.

        3. Agree with original Just Sayin’, plus if there are disruptions in the banking system you may not be able to access your funds when the taxes are due. I have read this happened during FDR’s bank “holiday” for some folks. Another reason is peace of mind. I worked with many older folks who paid 100% of their advance estimated income tax payments as soon as they were calculated – rather than quarterly – so they could sleep at night and not worry about forgetting one. With the banks paying next to nothing on savings, I am thinking why not be a year ahead if it lets you sleep at night.

        4. Both TOJS and MamaLark are correct. Also, why leave money in the bank at .2% interest, when instead of interest I can be assured my house won’t be taken away for at least a year? Interest of another kind, I suppose. Peace of mind.

        5. Here in NH you can be up to two years past due on your property taxes. Most towns will let you make payments rather than take your property.
          Third year past due is when the town will move to take for taxes,even then the state mandates that the owner can make full payments and get back the property .
          After the third year the town will sell the property at a tax sale.
          In no way is it good to have taxes due but at least NH is not in a big rush to take your property!

        6. Joe c,

          Another reason, I realized today. If the ‘dear leaders’ start freezing bank accounts of pesky domestic types, it might be better to have some of those bills paid ahead of time.

        7. Farmgirl and others,
          I truly understand concerns…..
          What the hell?
          A bank holiday?
          Delayed or slowed mailing system?
          Delayed, slowed processing of creditors?
          How is it my fault?
          Why? Because I’m a peon?

          I haven’t recieved my auto registration renewals.

          I haven’t recieved my monthly mortgage payment statement for this month.

          My tax payment was postmarked a day late…..late penalty.

          Yeah, but it’s all my fault, right?

          Turn the fricken screws. Tighten the rope.
          Hang em high

          And what do your tax dollars contribute to?. You as an individual?

          Absolutely nothing.
          Politician pockets must be filled first with paper. You get pennies.

          Land tax is one of the biggest government frauds. Pay and pay again for your ‘borrowed’ land..all to be taken on the government’s whim.

          Not being pissy with you Farmgirl.
          Just being fed up.

        8. Joe c,

          I’m with you, heart and soul. I’m now in calculated outcome mode. Do I want to give one stinking penny to these demon spawn? Hell, no! My tax dollars are an extortion to keep me out of jail, a temporary ransom.

          If I did not have children I am responsible for, I wouldn’t even be posting here. I’d be busy, throwing monkey wrenches right and left. I do, though. It’s a balance – feeding the beast just enough to keep from drawing attention, buying time.

          Timing is everything. There is a season for every purpose under heaven. I am watching, with laser like focus.

          We’re all fed up. Pray for guidance; be prepared to act; all in right time.

          Hold strong. You’re in magnificent company.

        9. Lauren, if the WEF and the globalists get their way, we won’t “own” anything, even property, in the future. God help us…….

        10. If I was forced into one of their smart cities I would probably be dead within a year. I don’t do well, disconnected from the earth. Maybe that’s the goal.

  7. Certain tips from are helpful. For example, where’s the safest place to park my car in the event of a hurricane or superstorm? Lee side of the house or barn? Would it be better to ride the storm out in the car parked in a nearby ravine if the house might collapse? Proper ventilation in a basement or safe room. Suggestions like that would be helpful.

    1. Morris B,
      Sure park that car in a ravine if you want to be washed away….hurricane…that is a heavy rain event…lasts for hours. no one will come get you in mddle of it.
      . short term- a ditch or low place can be good… we had a tornado passed over one of our near neighbors homes. They had a nice mobile home, tied down via code.lived in it about 2 months.no warnings , heard a roar and not on train tracks…..no cover near. except…they got under a bridge on the road directly in front of their home. They had to link arms and hold the little ones tightly,holding to the bridge supports… to keep from being sucked up in storm. they all survived with minimal scratches.

  8. I did not see a posting from TMcGyver yet on this topic. The 4 Seasons of California: Wildfires, Floods Riots and Earthquakes. I have worked as a first responder during all 4 events in my younger years in the “Golden State”. Ultimately, the event that drove me out was: heavy tax burden combined with companies leaving the state taking the skilled workforce with them.

    When the Governor is going to pay workers in form of IOU’s, it is time to leave. ( CA Gov Pete Wilson paid State Healthcare workers in IOU’s for 8 months back in 1992. I was there and watched from the vantage point of being an LEO. LEO’s got paid in cash.)

    Sometimes you gotta leave and take a job in a lower tax state to keep moving forward. Thus my online name: Vote with your feet like Calirefugee did over 10 years ago.

  9. I think it is more about “acts of God”, stupid human problems, and smart human problems.

    Most stupid human problems are a side effect of lack of due care and due diligence.

    Smart human problems are the ones that scare me. Humans can be very determined creatures.

  10. Regardless of the type of calamity, we are always at the mercy of the weather. Ken’s written a lot about cold weather preparedness in recent days. After reading Dennis on another article, took a look at the ventusky app. Tonight it looks like more than half the population will be in below freezing temperatures, with a significant proportion below zero. Just imagine if the electrical grid had gone down nationwide last week. The abilities to get warm, and to stay warm, clean, well-fed, and hydrated are so important.

Comments are closed.