First of all we need to do a risk assessment. In other words, we need to think about what things could actually go wrong. One way of tackling this is to look at the possible issues in a series of concentric circles.
What could happen in your own home?
Here are some questions to start you thinking about possible risks.
- Is your home near a river or at the bottom of a hill or other area that could flood easily?
- Is your electricity supply vulnerable e.g. could you suffer power cuts as a result of thunder storms or damage by others?
- Have you already experienced problems with water supply or could your water supply be spoilt by the actions of others e.g. tractor digging up a pipe or problems at the treatment plant?
- Can the drains in your area cope with heavy rain or does very severe rainfall lead to temporary flooding until the drains can deal with the excess?
- Do you have a business near you that could cause problems either as a fire risk or due to it being a possible pollution hazard?
- Could your own home catch fire?
- Do you live near a transport route of some kind either, rail, road or air as all of these occasionally have accidents that affect those nearby?
This list is not an exhaustive one but it is a useful starting point. Experience also suggests that accidents and bereavement will affect most households sooner or later.
What could happen in your own country?
Once you have thought about local events it is time to move on a step and consider the things that affect your country.
- The economy of a country influences each household in it. For example the spending cuts that the new UK government brought in after the elections in May 2010 have had far reaching impacts on all sectors f the community.
- How people react to economic and political situations can also cause problems. In the UK the fuel crisis of 2000 made it very difficult if not impossible to buy fuel leading to problems with all forms of rail and road transport.
- Every country has its own history of natural disasters. For some it is flooding. For others it is earthquakes, hurricanes.
- What about adverse weather? It could be blizzards or a heatwave, drought or floods whatever the extreme the weather can cause problems.
What could happen anywhere in the world?
They say no man is an island. A country can be an island but it is still affected by things happen somewhere else in the world.
- Floods elsewhere in the world can reduce the amount of land available to grow food. This leads to food shortages for some and higher prices for all.
- There are wars and rumours of wars. Whether these are cyber wars or a war on terror or just old-fashioned military wars.
- Natural disasters mean resources are needed to help those affected by them They also cause economic disruption as factories can no longer produce what they once did. This then leads to shortages elsewhere.
- Things we don't want can be blown over our country whether it is ash from a volcano or radioactivity from a damaged reactor. Chernobyl caused problems for some British farmers in areas where rain had passed through radioactive air and soil becoming radioactive.
Those lists are not exhaustive there are more things than could affect your home. Then of course there is the black swan event. This is something so unexpected and that has such an impact that it becomes outstanding. The name comes from the discovery of black swans in Australia at a time when there was an English proverb about something being as unexpected as a black swan. An example of a black swan event is the loss of the Twin Towers in New York i.e. 9/11.
It would be surprised if there was nothing on that list that could have, or even has affected your home at some time or other. Some of these risks seem quite remote like we hear about house fires but so often they happen to the unlucky ones out of the thousands of homes in our community.
What none of us can know, is the number of near misses that there are every day, things that could turn out badly but somehow don't turn out to be as bad as they could have been. It was revealed after one railway accident caused by a train going through a red light that such incidents happened somewhere in the UK most days and if the average, was to be believed, sometimes 3 or 4 times a day. Somehow, none of those incidents had turned into major accidents but they could have done. I believe things like that happen because of the grace of God and that sometimes He decides not to protect people and allows them to suffer from other people's mistakes. The scary thing is what would happen if for some reason that hand of protection was withdrawn and we had to take more of the consequences of our own mistakes.