Threat Analysis – Part 1 – What Should You Prepare For?

Performing a Threat Analysis is the first step in becoming self-reliant.  In this exercise, you will identify the threats, events, or scenarios you are concerned about.  From there, we can develop action plans and a list of skills and tools necessary to be ready for whatever comes your way.

Threats can generally be broken down into two groups: man-made threats and natural threats.  These threats can be ranked based on likelihood or potential impact.  A likely man-made threat might be violent crime or small scale civil unrest.  A likely natural threat could be a blizzard, earthquake, or flood, depending on where you live.  Less likely threats might things like the Yellowstone Super Volcano blowing up, total long term failure of the US power grid, global financial system collapse, etc..  Some unlikely threats, could have very high impacts, and you may choose to prepare for them as well as the more likely threat scenarios.  

Violent Crime

Unfortunately, if you live in the US, you are VERY likely to be the victim, or potential victim of a violent crime.  While crime rates in a given year are relatively low, over a lifetime, the statistics catch up with you.  The US Dept of Justice performed an analysis in 1987 based on the previous decade of crime data, and determined that 83% of people will be a victim of violent crime over the course of their entire life.  52% will be the victim of more than one violent crime during their lives.  If you are male, your risk is even higher, with an 89% likelihood of being a victim of violent crime, and 65% will be the victim of multiple violent crimes.  

Unfortunately we don’t have an updated analysis of the data, but though overall crime rates have generally fallen since 1987, we have recently seen a significant upsurge in violent.  We have also seen a significant reduction in how often violent crimes are reported to the authorities.  A 2017 study by the DOJ showed the only 42% of victims report violent crime to the police.  

Specific risk levels vary depending on location, gender, race, and other factors.  Rural areas are generally safer than the city, and certain cities are much more dangerous than others.  Black men and women are at a greater risk of being the victims of violent crime, etc…. Your neighborhood, career, and personal habits will also influence your specific level of risk.  

All that said, it’s a reasonable assumption that you’re more likely to be the victim of a violent crime at some point in your life, than not.  And that is true for your spouse, kids, friends, and neighbors.  I believe that being ready for the most typical types of violent crimes (assault, attempted murder, mugging, robbery, rape, etc..) is the most important threat mitigation you can perform.  Being able to protect not just yourself, but anyone around you, will likely come in handy, and may very well save lives.  


Non-violent theft is also a major issue.  Over 75% of households will experience at least one burglary.  There are ~750,000 auto thefts a year, alarmingly about 1/3 of those were due to keys being left in the vehicle.  Almost every household will experience some sort of theft from the home.  

Natural Threats

Natural threats are primarily weather related, earthquakes, or volcanos.  The type of natural threats you should plan for will be extremely dependent on where you live.  In Colorado where I live, the major threats are blizzards, wildfires (forest fires or grass fires), and flooding.  If you live by the ocean in a wet environment, hurricanes will probably be much more of a threat than wildfires.  

If you live in California, earthquakes are likely to be high on your list of threats.  I recommend reaching out to your local city or county emergency planning group to see what their list of threats looks like.  You can also search online for natural disaster data for your location, much of which comes from insurance company data analysis.  

Rare But Concerning

Some less likely threats that you may still want to be prepared for, include things like: localized or widespread civil unrest, civil war, financial system collapse, state or nationwide electrical system collapse, EMPs, pandemics, foreign military invasion, zombies, aliens, potential extinction level events such as super volcanos, asteroid impacts, nuclear war, and more.  

Make a List

As an exercise, make a list of all the threats you would like to be prepared for, in order of how likely you think they are to occur.  In future articles we will expand that list to include specific details of the threat that you’ll need to mitigate or work around, and discuss how to make response plans, determine skills and tools you may need, and practice your response plans.  

As an example, here is my list (I live in rural Colorado, in a flat area):

  • Wildfire
  • Blizzard
  • Windstorm
  • Home Burglary/Invasion
  • Non-violent theft of goods or vehicles
  • Being a potential victim or witness to an attempted mugging, assault, rape, etc…
  • Pandemic
  • Large scale electrical grid failure
  • Financial System Collapse