The very second step for starting your prepping adventure -The Threat Matrix

By OhioPrepper

The title may seem a bit odd, since we generally think of the very first thing when we begin to perform any task; but, the first step anyone takes in a prepping adventure, is to come to the realization that the world is and always has been an uncertain place, and that having a base set of knowledge, skills, physical resources and the correct positive attitude, is a necessary thing to do for your own safety and peace of mind as well as  your loved ones.  It is said that you can lead a horse to water; but, you can’t make him drink, and I suspect most of us have had this same type of thoughts when we try to convince others that prepping is smart and even necessary, often to even have the person agree, and promptly ignore us.

In the prepping community, we often see the term, TEOTWAWKI, or The End OF The World As We Know It, with the important part being the last 4 words, As We Know It.  This term to some often conjures up visions of a global nuclear war, or an asteroid impact, creating that Zombie Apocalypse.

The real end of the world as each of us knows it will more likely be a personal event such as an illness or job loss. So how you may ask, do we determine what’s going to happen and how to plan for it?

The simple answer is the Threat Matrix, which we will discuss here.  This matrix is not hard or complex; but, will take some effort and thought as you create it, and once it’s completed, you’ll have a map to start you on your journey, with some sort of organization, and perhaps a little less stress.  You can use paper and pencil, or a spreadsheet or word processor, if you’re comfortable with those tools. Here’s how you construct yours.

Start with a list of threats in prioritized order, with loss of your income, death in the family, or sudden acute illness at the top. Add global nuclear war and life ending asteroid strike at the bottom. Fill in the middle with the threats you and your family could actually face. For instance, here in Ohio we can have blizzards and tornados; but, are not too concerned with earthquakes or hurricanes and generally not much with floods or wildfires at my location, so be honest with yourself for your area.

Next, starting at the most likely (highest priority) event, make a list of the resources required to mitigate that threat. A resource in this case would be Materials, knowledge, and skills. Keep in mind also that sometimes people confuse information, knowledge, and skills; but, there is a simple way to understand the differences, and that is the application of them to your situation. A library with all of its books or the internet with all of its pages, text, videos, etc. contains absolutely no knowledge. It is only information. When you apply that information by reading, listening, or watching it, then you gain knowledge; but, that does not make a skill. You then apply that knowledge to create a skill, and then practice that skill to become proficient.

Once you have listed the stuff, knowledge, and skills for a threat, move on down to the next one on the list. What you will find is that as you move down the list, you start needing fewer resources, since they have already been covered in the higher priority levels. Once the matrix is complete, you have a map on what supplies, knowledge (books and other information), and skills to acquire, and like any journey, it gets only better with a map to the destination.

Also, note that as you prepare your way down this list, other things you missed will pop into your head; but, be assured that this is normal, and as you move on this journey in an organized fashion, you should occasionally stop and smell the roses, looking back for just a minute to see how far you’ve come. Always looking ahead will only tend to confuse, because this journey never has a final destination. I’ve been on the journey in a serious manner for more than 40 years, and still on occasion wonder what I’m missing.  Your journey will be not unlike the stories of Scheherazade, who’s never ending stories kept her alive for 1001 nights by telling stories so intriguing, that her benefactor kept her alive, waiting for her new stories every night.  Your extended story and your journey into preparedness will be constantly changing as you acquire new resources or skills, many of which will then equip you to think of and ask questions that might not have initially come to mind.

Often not knowing what we don’t know is our biggest problem; but, as you move forward, often very obvious things will occur to you, at which point you go back and rework the matrix; but, I promise that it will only get easier and you will eventually have at least a little peace of mind.

Another good resource is just reading this forum, and getting pointers and perspectives you may not have otherwise encountered.

Any threat on the list will require some basic starting items, so let’s get started:

Shelter & Clothing

Assuming that you already have a house, apartment or other abode, look around and determine how sheltering in this location would serve you, or if you plan to bug out to another location, look at the resources already cached there, what you need to take with you, your mode of transport, and the safest, least congested routes.


This can be anything from mains power with battery banks, generators, small-scale solar, wind, and water, as in low-head hydro.

On the low end, it could be simply AA, AAA, C, D, 18650, and other types of rechargeable cells with some way to keep them charged.  I saw an article long ago in The Mother Earth News showing how someone had rigged a small alternator or generator to a stationary bicycle and used that to charge batteries.  Another showed how they used a small battery and a bicycle like this to power a small TV set, so that in order to watch TV, one of the kids had to keep peddling.  I suspect their kids were not couch potatoes.

Under energy, keeping warm, cooking, and having a supply of hot water would also be something to consider.  It could be as simple as a coal or wood cook stove (assuming you have plenty of coal or wood resources available.

I remember another article where someone constructed their own coal mine.  They dug a huge hole on the property, lined it with tarps or some other materials and bought tons of coal that were dumped into the hole.  They then covered the coal with more tarps and then soil, making an out of sight relatively easy to access energy source.

Food & Water

A great starting place for this is the LDS food storage calculator found here

Google can no doubt find others.

Add the LDS books:

  • A year’s supply in seven days
  • Deseret recipes
  • Dry-Pack Handouts

Many of these are available for free download at



Dry-Pack Handouts:

Home Storage: Build on the Basics

Update on milk storage:

I mention and reference the LDS also known as the Mormons primarily because they are one of the best resources for preparedness, since it is part of their doctrine.  This is no different than referencing the NRA on firearms issues or the Red Cross for First Aid and CPR, since these are the organizations that have the expertise.


Security will depend a lot on your own situation.  It can include everything from firearms (with proper training and practice) to cameras, fences, dogs, etc.  This area will need to be assessed as part of filling in the mitigation on the matrix, and will be up to you to determine what works for your location, expertise, and budget,

What we call prepping, the old timers and the Amish just consider living, so with that thought here is an additional resource

Good luck on your journey, and I hope this makes you a little more organized and perhaps less confused, fearful, and stressed out.


  1. American Pacrat says:

    Good Morning
    What I was able to read rather quickly. Great information for us who need a reminder like myself and for those just starting out, a nice way for them to build slowly so they grasp the concept.
    As you stated sometimes the unexpected does occur as the passing of a loved one. Which occurred in our family recently so I am off to located family history so that my brothers children will have photos for his service.

    • OhioPrepper says:

      American Pacrat ,
      Sorry for your loss; but, these kind of life events are more likely than many we prep for, although prepping for the larger picture is over all prudent.
      I want to point out again that keeping track of what you’re doing and looking at how far you’ve come is also essential, especially when you mey feel lost, or under the gun, or falling behind.
      I have word documents and spreadsheets that keep track of dates, events, associated costs, etc, which allow me to remember exactly when I bought that first propane tank 18 years ago.

  2. Good list.


  3. Wow, OhioPrepper! Very well thought out and presented.

  4. Thumbs Up! High Up!
    Very good article and well written also! Take care my friend. Think I will go create a spreadsheet.

  5. Jesse Mathewson says:

    I have absolutely nothing to disagree with, dangit! You are correct, very well put together.

  6. patientmomma says:

    OP, good article and references. I get 50% of my long term food from LDS store online. Quality stuff.

  7. PrepperDoc says:

    Nice job. Well explained. I guess i sort of subconsciously did this when I decided a few years ago (after reading One Second After) that I needed to plan for Bad Things.

    I guess everyones’ list would be different. Depends on your physical status, friends, assets, skills. However, it sure would be interesting to see a written down copy for one typical family.

  8. Comprehensive article on steps to take!

  9. With our current drought and the wildfires around us last fall, we are reevaluating our threat matrix. Lots of acreage burned in our county. Many places had it worse than us but it sure did open our eyes to things we hadn’t considered before.

    I need to start keeping a written record. I haven’t been doing that

    Liked the article, very well written.

    • OhioPrepper says:

      We engineers have a phrase for going back and reevaluating something to correct flaws and make it better.
      Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
      Do this until you’re satisfied with the result.
      Good to see it helped, and hope you mitigate everything and stay safe.

  10. I have worked in the Electric Utility Industry in High Voltage Transmission System Maintenance for 23 years. I have tested and fixed every piece of high voltage power apparatus in a substation. Since 9/11 I have been amazed terrorists are wasting the time and resources attacking air transport and small groups of people when the Ultimate Soft Target, the high voltage transmission system, is so easy to disable with catastrophic consequences. Check out for details.

    • Jesse Mathewson says:

      Its simple, who funds, trains and originated easily 97% of every terror group in existance? What segment of society benefits from the continued division of citizens, “free” you and I?
      What segment of society benefits from continued warfare all the way back through 1790’s and the “tripoli pirates”?

      Using simple logic removing the fact that less than 70 years ago the supposed perps where goat herding tribesmen AND REMAIN SUCH TODAY, who really benefits and USES religion as a prop to gain both continued support and division as a result?

    • Jesse Mathewson says:

      Quick addition, hardening borders will only result in more personal freedom being removed here. More laws and more le/mil will ONLY result in more loss of personal freedom.

      You can only have either freedom OR none. Right now we stand at a tipping point, and so many who blindly accept that we must have DC and its adherents will ensure total subjugation and the best part is, we will walk ourselves right into it, not all of us, but most. Will end up giving away the very thing they claim to love for the sake of continued but nonexistent “safety” and continued “benefits”

      I am disabled and have been since 2007, however, I could and would do fine should that “support” disappear, as long as it means my children live freely. That is what drives me.

    • OhioPrepper says:

      Marc Schneider,
      I concur with your assessment. Not far from my location is a substation that contains the interconnection point for several 345KV and three 765KV transmission lines. Two 765 KV come from generation plants on the Ohio River, and a third heads off to the northwest to deliver power to Michigan and ultimately Chicago. AEP maintains over 2000 miles of transmission line, and taking down even one tower, let alone a substation like the one near me would cause serious chaos and cause a chain reaction or domino effect that would ripple for miles or states.
      Back on Thursday, August 14, 2003 there was a tree that got into some power lines, in northern Ohio triggering an alarm system containing a software bug. Power was out into the northeast US and parts of Canada, and was out for about 6 hours here at my location and anywhere from 2 days to a week in other places.
      I’ve known about the substation and have stopped there many times over the past 40 years; but, this was the first time I actually looked for information on it on the web, and I found detailed information about it, including the Latitude and Longitude all from public sources like the Ohio Power Siting board ( I find this very interesting; but, it’s the downside of a free society.
      As Ben Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”, and while this quote is often mis used, it does contain the essence of the balance between freedoms (like thos documents I found) and the security we all hope to have.
      BTW, When you added the URL you were no doubt moderated; but, since you already use that as your homepage linked in your name, you could simply refer toe that from now one. Just a tip.

      • OhioPrepper, I created to alert/educate people of the significant vulnerabilities of the high voltage transmission grid in particular those that supply power to what I call target cities. I was writing from the prospective of someone who doesn’t live in or near a target city but will be severely impacted nevertheless if power is knocked out for even a few weeks to months. I haven’t taken steps to advertise my site except for asking a few people I know to give me some feedback. Lately I have seen visitors from many parts of the world. Many are visitors from Brazil. I didn’t know why there is so much interest in Brazil.  I having been reading that ISIS and  other Muslim Extremist Groups are recruiting and raising money amongst the 1 million Muslims living in Brazil. Is there any connection? I don’t know but I thought I should try to do more to spread the word there is a critical  soft target that is essentially like shooting fish in a barrel to  even a moderately trained/equipped terrorist(s).  You don’t need to take down a tower to disable a transmission line. Damage 1 insulator and the line is out until repaired. Knock out three key lines the system takes itself off line.  Knock out three key  large power  transformers and the outage lasts many weeks or months. I know I fixed/replaced everything in a substation.      

        • OhioPrepper says:

          Marc Schneider,

          I know I fixed/replaced everything in a substation.

          Then I suspect you know the difference and use of Wye and Delta .configurations, LOL.

          Damage 1 insulator and the line is out until repaired.

          It’s interesting that you say this. I have a friend who has a EE, and Masters in Power Systems, and is now an E.R. physician; but, in her career did a lot of engineering working at AEP. One of the things she was involved in was certifying equipment for the high lines and the first test of an insulator was to stand it out in the yard and shoot at it with a shotgun and various small arms. Any damage was unacceptable. This was years ago, it’s good looking back at it that the industry didn’t have it’s head completely in the sand.
          I hope you don’t mind; but, I’ve sent that link to several friends in my local prepping community as well as my county EMA.
          While I wouldn’t want to do it myself or be there when it happened, I’ve often contemplated what would occur if you took a few hundred feet of heavy wire rope (steel cable) and launched one end over the lines. It would hang on the neutral lightning protection cables; but, the dangling lines would touch at least two of the three phases and I suspect a large show of fireworks would ensue.
          That reason, along with drunks who run into power poles, ice storms and the like are why we invested in our generator once we could afford it.
          We’ll also be adding more propane capacity next summer.
          Looking at the photo on your home page I was wondering if you would like a few more of 765KV towers and lines to add. That substation is only a few miles from here sitting nearly in the yard of a friend and MAG member.

          • Marc Schneider says:

            OhioPrepper, send the link to everyone you want. Yesterday another visit from someone in Brazil. I should set up a Google Analytics Account and find out who they are. Shooting an insulator is noisy. A small drone with a conductive streamer will flashover an insulator. If the insulator is damaged by the arc as it probably will be it will be a permanent fault, line to ground. The whole transmission line will be out of service until the insulator is replaced. Not difficult to do. Knock out three main transmission lines at the same time and the protective relays will shut down the unstable system because the voltage and frequency will be out of tolerance. If the system doesn’t shut down there is a risk the transformers and generators will be permanently damaged. Anyone with experience operating or maintaining high voltage transmission system knows this. Most major cities in the US import their power from distant generating plants. If the 9/11 terrorist directed their attention to the electric grid they could have blacked out NYC and the surrounding areas for weeks or months. The efforts to protect the grid from cyber attack is a waste of money (billions). The grid is too vulnerable to physical attack to prevent extended blackouts. All the efforts to do so are just to make the public think they are safe. With my website I don’t want give terrorists a detailed attack plan. It’s easy enough for them to develop one themselves. I do want to spread the word to the vast majority of the people in this country who have no clue how the electric power system works they had better get educated to this threat to their very existence and make preparations in case terrorists attack what I call the Ultimate Soft Target.

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