Tag: survival series

Why do I write?

Why do I write? To have an armful of my own books, of course!

Today I put final touches on a book I am writing with my partner, Joe. It’s about professional marketing for accountants.

(The challenge of writing as co-authors is certainly worth a blog post at some point. Actually, it’s probably worth a whole book. I wonder what category it would fall into. Humor? Horror? Action & Adventure? We’ve been together for more than 35 years, so maybe the category should be History & Criticism?  Whatever. . .!)

Anyway, I thought that today, in honor of having reached the half-way point of our summer writing challenge, I’d write in answer to the question,

“Why do you keep writing about Emergency Preparedness?”

  • I do it because I can. I have access to a computer, to the internet, and time. I love words. Not everyone has these luxuries.
  • I do it because I like feeling that I’m helping others. Nice people keep writing to thank me for helping . . . and, of course, that keeps me going!
  • I do it because I made the commitment a long time ago to write at least a weekly Advisory (post) about a new topic associated with emergency preparedness. (My daughter tells me I am indiscriminately curious.) After well over 400 Advisories I’ve learned a whole lot about a whole lot of stuff!
  • I like knowing I’m a “published author.” There’s still some cachet to that – in certain circles, at least!
  • I see other people writing and that reminds me, “I can do that, too!”

Perhaps one day I’ll branch out into yet another field. In the meanwhile,

I have five books on Emergency Preparedness on Amazon.

The first 3 books were for people wanting to get more of their neighbors involved in being prepared. (These books got finished at the same time. The picture shows me on the day samples arrived!) The 4th book extended that to helping small businesses be ready for emergencies. The 5th book was the collection of meeting ideas for all those groups being formed . . . and happily, that’s the book that’s sold the most copies!

You can see all of them at my Author Page at Amazon. Here’s the link: amazon.com/author/virginiasnicols I hope to have at least two more emergency preparedness titles appearing there this year!

Have you written a book? Several? Why do YOU write? Interested readers would like to know! We are, after all, a special category.

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

Day 15 of Summer Vacation: A time for some shorter and lighter Advisories as a welcome change-of-pace!

A Tsunami of Threats


Too many threatsThe number of threats can be overwhelming.

In just the past 2 weeks we have been bombarded with stories of threats that turned into disasters and near disasters.  I’m sure you’ll remember these:

October 10, 2018Michael makes landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in the Florida panhandle. 50 people dead, billions in losses.

October 15, 2018 – 60,000 without power as PG&E shuts down lines over more wildfire fears.

October 24, 2018– Police intercepted suspected pipe bombs sent to high-profile Democrats, in what New York officials described as an act of terrorism.

October 29, 2018Eleven people were killed and six others were injured on Saturday when a gunman opened fire in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

October 29, 2018 –Boeing jetliner crashes after take-off in Indonesia, all 189 aboard presumed lost.

This is just a short list. There were more. And throughout the country people suffered from local tragedies that didn’t make the national news.

How can we do a realistic job of preparing for so many threats?

Consider a systematic approach.

1-Start with a written list of threats.

In writing our Neighborhood Disaster Survival Series we found ourselves assembling multiple lists of potential threats. Ultimately we put together one list for homes and a different and considerably longer list for businesses.

You can build your own list. Get your team together in front of a BIG white board or easel (plenty of pages of paper) and brainstorm all the threats that you could possibly face. We have done this a number of times in our group, and we usually come up with 20-40 threats. (This is a great exercise to get people engaged. )

2-Narrow it down to threats that are realistic for you and your community.

Go back over your massive list (!) and start paring it down by removing threats that may be POSSIBLE but really aren’t PROBABLE.

Usually it’s simply a matter of replacing emotional response with common sense and some history.

For example, here’s a short list of threats with some thoughts that can get you started on the paring down process.

  • Every day challenges like power outages – the most frequent disaster in the U.S. (and increasing in frequency). In our local neighborhood we have to include water main breaks and gas line breaks and/or shut-offs, because of the age and quality of our infrastructure.
  • Potential localized dangers to your neighborhood, like transportation accidents – particularly high risk in industrial areas. If you live or work near an airport or beside train tracks, near chemical plants or certain industrial processing installations, threats of accident might be high; otherwise, you could probably take these threats off your list.
  • Natural disasters like floods or storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, and wildfires – likely tied to your geographic location. These are always first on everybody’s list, and their likelihood is pretty easy to evaluate.
  • Mass shootings and workplace violence – nearly always the result of personal motives and/or mental illness issues. Very difficult to anticipate or prepare for, but you could be blamed for negligence if you ignore the possibility.
  • Attacks with weapons of mass destruction – suddenly appearing on our list after decades of being absent. We’re talking here about the threat of nuclear explosion or biological or chemical attacks. If you live and work in a major metropolitan area, particularly a government center, your risk would be higher.
  • Cyber attacks – almost 3.25 billion data records were compromised in the U.S. during the first half of 2018; new vulnerabilities are being exploited as data moves to the cloud. As you read this, attacks ranging from simple virus infections to ransom claims are happening to individuals and businesses around the world.
  • Lawsuits – becoming more frequent but one of the easiest threats to protect against.
  • Terrorism – Whether international or domestic, terrorism results in dramatic news coverage. It is still relatively rare in the U.S., but the number of incidents has been rising.

3-Begin preparing for these selected threats.

Pick the most likely threats and start with those. What can you do to find out about the threat in advance? Can you mitigate (lessen) the impact by making changes NOW? What processes, tools and people might you need to recover once the threat has materialized? What’s the plan for assembling these resources, training, etc.?

Warning: Don’t let your emotional reaction prejudice your efforts.

During the “threat analysis” exercise you may find that people’s individual biases and emotional reactions are likely to emerge. Their experiences may make it tough for them to think dispassionately about a given threat.

Moreover, research has shown that most people seem to find man-made disasters more frightening and rate them as more severe than natural disasters. Terrorism tops the list for emotional reaction, even though it is very low on the probability list.

Try not to let these biases get in the way of making good decisions as to which disasters you actually prepare for!

Reminder: Plan to repeat.

Analyzing threats is something you’ll want to do more than once, because circumstances change. Build a repeat look at threats into your plan!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. We were hit this week by another of those “local” disasters. It had to do with a Windows 10 update. Our entire network just threw up its hands and quit.  So while I would normally have offered you our list of over 80 threats to business, I just haven’t been able to make it happen!  If you can’t wait, please just buy a copy of Emergency Preparedness for Small Business and you’ll find that list in the Appendix, along with a multi-page Risk Analysis Worksheet that can help you set priorities!  I’ll report in later about how we recover!