Location Based Threats: Preparing for the Most Likely Disasters in Your Neighborhood

When it comes to preparedness there is often too much emphasis placed on those rare, but frightening end-of-days types of disasters. While yes, some of them could conceivably happen, it’s often the small-scale localized dangers that pose the largest risk to your safety.

Danger Signs

I came across a story this morning that I though was a good example of why you need to prepare for threats within your own neighborhood.

800 residents from the town of Doyline, located about 270 miles northwest of New Orleans, had to be quickly evacuated after officials found over six million pounds of improperly stored explosives on the grounds of Camp Minden.

Louisiana State Police say 6 million pounds of explosives, including M6 artillery propellant, were found recklessly packed into buildings and left in open cardboard boxes on long rows of pallets outside the old Louisiana Army Ammunitions Plant. Officials are now removing the explosives, but residents are expected to be under a mandatory evacuation order for at least a couple of days.

This story highlights something that we’ve been saying for a while. Preparedness isn’t always about preparing for doomsday type events. It also means knowing what dangers are in your neighborhood, and having a plan to deal with those threats.

What are the immediate dangers near your location?

  • Is there anything that stands out about your neighborhood? Are there obstacles or dangers that are specific to your geographical location that could leave you vulnerable?
  • What are the most likely location-based threats that you’ll face? (Terrorist threats, chemical and/or biological threats, threats to critical infrastructure, criminal activity, inadequate access to supply routes or escape routes during a disaster, etc…)
  • Is there anything about your area that makes it a possible target?

Dealing with Location Based Threats

  • You Must Have a Bugout BagShould a situation present itself where you have to immediately leave your location, you need to have a bag filled with emergency supplies that can see you through the evacuation period.
  • You Need an Evacuation PlanHaving an emergency evacuation plan is a vital step in being prepared. In my opinion, it’s one of the most important elements in any survival plan. The last thing you want in any emergency situation, is to get caught up in the chaos of an evacuation.
  • Make Sure You Have Cash  – You should always have an emergency supply of cash on hand at all times. If you need to quickly evacuate, having some emergency cash will help you do everything from rent a hotel room, to stock up on extra supplies.
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  1. I live in a small town that has a lot of rail traffic, I’m talking 20-40 trains a day at 50-60 miles an hour. Lots of tanker cars with who knows what in them. I have been talking evac plans with my fiancé in case of derailment. She is onboard, pardon the pun.

    • Tanker cars are not the only potential hazard carried by trains… those box cars also carry different hazardous items as well (even guns that get stolen ;-) ), and could potentially become even more volatile when mixed with whatever else could be in a tanker if there were ever a derailment. I have friends that work on trains and they make efforts to not transport materials that do not ‘mix well’ with other goods, but then you must rely on the manifest being accurate.

      Being prepared in your location to get away is smart, and I would consider getting a NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) suit for you, your girlfriend and any kids you have… at a minimum a couple of good quality gas masks.

      • Oh I plan on it. Unfortunately we are on the “wrong” side of the tracks, to the SE, wind is typically blowing NW to SE here, so we would have to get out fast if there was an issue. But we are located close to a main road out of town, a plus for evac and a minus for other situations.

        • I can relate… use to live in an area with a railroad right nearby. Some interesting stuff coming down the rails.

          Main roads can get clogged in a hurry post-incident!

  2. I live very close to the flight line at a very large Air Force Base; what do you recommend we do? I say if someone sends missles we are pretty much screwed!!!

  3. I live in a very rural area, BUT there is a Camp Grayling, Michigan bout 10 miles from here. Im 100 miles south of the Mackinac Bridge.. Do I have anything 2 worry about (Except the normal crap) ?

  4. VERY sound information! Question, please. For a person who does not own property to “Bug Out” to, your advice will be greatly appreciated! (I live in a crime plagued city) Thanx….Jethro

    • As far as “bug out” goes, IMHO that is a last resort and for me if that does occur, it would be a condition where I do not plan on returning. The key is being able to identify the issue and ‘get while the getting is good’ before it is too late.

      You may want to consider getting a storage locker outside the “crime plagued city” in the direction best to evacuate so you are not carrying or transporting all your goods exposing yourself as a target… or a couple storage / cache locations in opposite directions with duplicated items.

      Without owning property, you might want to identify friends and family that have property and talk with them about plans. There are millions of square miles of national forests and state parks, but then there will be others with the ‘same idea’ so competition may make it a bit tougher…

      There are a lot of variables to consider and only you can decide what will work best for you. Whatever you decide, define a plan, test its validity, rehearse some scenarios and keep refining your skills, testing your equipment and increasing your knowledge. Hopefully you will never need to enact your plan, but as the Boy Scout motto goes “Be Prepared.”

      The day you stop learning is the day you die.

      • Great advice Mike. Jethro, you could also try to find a like minded group or individual in a area around you that you could bug out to. I live in the north, it’s cold here, I figure most people would head south to get away from the frigid temps, I plan on heading farther north. Look at your situation like that, where would others head and find a location opposite that. The storage locker is a great idea, act like a hobo on the way there and hopefully others will not pay you any attention then get to your gear(and maybe a mode of transport) and get out of dodge. Go to http://www.PrepperGroups.com and check out your area, you might be surprised. Good luck.

    • Great question and some really good ideas and discussion on here!

      One thought for you that Mike kind of touched on is tapping into strategically located family and friends.

      Realistically, pre-arranged accomodations with a relative or friend could be almost as good as having a fortress up in the hills someplace. I would suggest looking at your threats as Rob covers in the article and maybe identifying a couple family members that live: 1) 20 minutes away, 2) a couple hours away, 3) possibly an out of stater. If they’re willing to do a reciprocal bug out agreement with you, it could be a good way to go.

      I think the key is making the phone call and getting it set up NOW, before anything has gone down. In the heat of the moment, emotions could be high and/or they may already be hosting other people by the time you call. Or you may not even be able to get through if comms are down.

      Face a little bit of awkwardness and make a couple calls now!


  5. I am a National Guard soldier in Lansing MI i live 4 miles(by street maybe 2 straight shot)from my JFHQ(joint forces headquarters) which is very useful but unfortunately it has train tracks on one side and a commercial airport on the onther side both literaly right over a fence. i am currently convinceing my wife that we need to set up a evac plan and practice it as well as two back ups. also that we need to get nbc gear. i have seen what some of those chemicals can do be they from train or plane i just hope that the train does not have cloride chemical agents cuz a gas mask will last about a min before it eats through the filters. learned that over seas. when we were stationed at a base with that stuff.

  6. I suggest that ‘your location’ could vary dramatically in size depending on the events you’re considering. A wind plume from a nuclear meltdown might be in your area 200 miles upwind from you, but only 20 miles or so if not upwind. An 8.5 Richter scale earthquake might leave you alone just 5 or 10 miles away. But a major volcanic eruption with lots of ash and such could affect you hundreds of miles away. Hurricanes have traveled over 100 miles inland to cause serious flooding. SO MAKE YOUR PLANS ACCORDINGLY – your neighborhood varies in size by the name of the threat.

  7. there is a nuclear plant 30-40 miles from me. and then there is the new madrid fault. also in a flight path of the planes. if i stress over things i know i can’t control, i’d freak out on the regs. i can only do what i can do. and i’m doin’ my best to prepare.

  8. In my town Spokane Washington, we have within 12 blocks of our home an Anthrax plant. I am worried about a leak there or a complete bombing situation or whatever there where we are all exposed to the Anthrax virus in huge concentration. That is enough to make us want to prepare for that kind of a break down in our city. I know nothing about this virus but that it can kill you and that it can travel in the powder form for miles. I don’t know of a much better reason to prepare then that.

    • Beverly, I was not aware that Anthrax was anywhere except CDC in Atlanta and one location in former Soviet Russia. If I were you, try to verify the Anthrax plant issue. I think you may find that it manufactures something else. Possibly very bad for life and health, but maybe not Anthrax. I could be 100% wrong though.

  9. This brought up a few issues in my area. The space center is not too far from my residence. Also, the fact I live in a flood zone. Hurricane France’s and Jeanne flooded us in 2004. Frances hit and stayed for 3 days and Jeanne was two weeks behind it. Ivan hit and Florida Power & Light were taking off to help with Ivan. That left the residents, 3 weeks without power and massive flooding. Any ideas on making a levy to avoid 2-3 foot of water getting into the house again? Not to mention, thrill seekers have to come see and create water wakes. I was thinking of wood fence posts, 2 ft. In the ground with pallets and 3/4 inch plywood as a blocker? Along with sandbags at the bottom and reinforcing with pressure treated 2×4’s?

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