How to Assess Threats for Survival | Survival Blog

Posted On December 9, 2013 at 8:16 pm by / No Comments

It is important when planning your bug out bag or evacuation route to take a realistic look at the threats present in your local environment. There are some easy, effective steps that anyone can take to do this. To start off with, you should take a look at the threats in your locality:

  1. Learn what disasters have occurred historically – have there been massive earthquakes or fires in your area? Have there been any terrorist attacks?
  2. Understand how local geography and climate may cause natural disasters – is your region prone to flooding or landslides?
  3. Review what weather related disasters have occurred – does your area receive frequent hurricanes or snowstorms?
  4. Know what man-made disasters may occur – is there a nuclear power plant or chemical facility nearby?

Once you know what has occurred historically, you can begin assessing the risk of perceived threats based on two factors:

  1. The probability of an event occurring
  2. The impact it would have if it did occur

The Probability of an Event Occurring During a Survival Situation

This is important to consider because you will need to focus your time and what resources you bring towards situations that are likely to occur. If you plan your bug out bag to account for every possible scenario not only will it be far too heavy to carry but you will have a huge number of survival items that you will need to sort through when you do actually need to implement one. Plan on addressing the highest probability problems first and then add what you can to address lower likelihood scenarios. A good place to start is with your basic survival needs and then what has happened most frequently according to your historical knowledge.

The Impact an Event Would Have if it Did Occur

This is the other element that is essential to consider when assessing the risk of threats. If something is going to have a low impact, like skinning your knee, you probably do not need to spend much time planning to avoid it. However, if an event will have a severe impact, such as serious injury or death, it will be something you should carefully prepare for and plan around. Identifying what treats would have a moderate to severe impact is an important step in identifying where your preparation efforts should be focused.

Putting the two together:

Combining probability of an event with its potential impact is the basis for assessing the risk level of all threats. If a threat is highly likely but will have negligible impact, you probably do not need to do much about it. If a threat is low probability but will have a major impact, like a meteor strike, you may want to do some preparation but not invest an enormous amount of time. What you want to do is make a list of all your perceived threats and then list out their relative probabilities and impacts. See what has a moderate to high probability along with a moderate to severe impact and start your survival planning around these possibilities. We have constructed the Threat Assessment Matrix below to help you with this process.


Keep this matrix handy when reviewing your perceived threats and when considering what to include in your survival kit. It may help you see your threats in a new light and perhaps let you leave behind some gear that is meant to address highly unlikely events.


As you can see, there are some simple steps you can take to assess threats in your life. With the use of the methodology explained here and the tools provided you will be well on your way to having a survival kit and plan that meet realistic threats in your life.

Author Bio:

Chris is a lifelong outdoorsman and has been interested in survival tactics and practices for many years. He currently helps people prepare for unforeseen disasters at The Bug Out Bag Guide. For more information please visit:

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