A reader on the left coast writes . . .

Many people here and elsewhere invest a lot of time, money, and training in the pursuit of home defense in case the manure lagoon hits the 1 MW wind turbine. But what does this really mean?

One needs to prepare for situations based on expected probability and the negative consequences. What situations do you expect to encounter, how could they be, and what are their odds? My professional life (computer security) requires me to think about scenarios and their probability and I applied such an analysis to my own life.

So this is what my worries are . . .

I’m a small-town Californian and I’m prepared for an earthquake. There is about a 1 in 20 chance of their being a bad earthquake (Magnitude 6.5+) where I live in any given year, and a 1 in a 200 chance of something near-apocalyptic (Magnitude 8+).

I have five days worth of dedicated emergency “food” plus my normal pantry. My tool collection includes lots of flashlights, an always charged, a battery-operated Sawzall, a crowbar, and a six foot digging bar. A wrench is zip-tied to the gas meter.

I also maintain friendly relations with my neighbors, since I may need to dig them out or they may need to do that for me. Two of them have pools providing a foul-tasting, but usable water supply. Finally there’s my gasoline siphon and my vehicle assortment, including a dirt bike with knobby tires, room for two, and lots of luggage space.

So I can dig out and stay put for a week or more. Or I can take myself, my girlfriend, and our two cats a hundred miles away from here regardless of the number of fallen overpasses, clogged roads, collapsed freeways, burning gas-stations, or landslides in the way.

When I begin to focus on training (which I need to do), it will be first aid, broken bones, and crushing wounds, since the expected bad incidents are earthquakes and car crashes.

I also worry about daytime burglary because its unfortunately common. I keep the doors locked and windows latched. Any possibly unattended windows have blocks to limit their travel, and I purchased a safe. My goal is simply to be a harder and less-attractive target than other houses and to have additional protection for any irreplaceable or particularly valuable items.

Yet I have no worries about someone breaking in when I’m home, as I know the odds.

My small-town paper helps keep things in perspective. Digging through the archives it seems that a “break-in when people are home” robbery occurs about once every two years or so. So with about 30,000 households here, the odds are about 1 in 60,000 in any given year that I will face a night-time intruder. I’m three hundred times more likely to have the San Andreas fault try to chuck me and the rest of California into the Pacific.

So I don’t need to sleep with a gun next to my bed. I’m far more likely to need a Stanley Fubar.

This is what SHTF means to me, and how I’ve prepared for it. What does it mean to you?

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