America faces many challenges going forward. Some of these challenges are new, some are lurking fears that have never quite perished, but all threaten the safety and security of our nation, in total or in part, and ergo the citizenry. None may be so bad as to completely destroy our country, but all could come at the cost of many lives, widespread devastation and an unpredictable and terrible reordering of society.
It is best to be ready for regional or national disasters. Despite their dreadful portents, they are survivable with the right plan, the right preparation, a lot of grit and a little luck. Below are some of the most plausible threats against America that will certainly have regional and perhaps nationwide effects.
What is on this List?
This list is comprised of disasters and crisis events that are natural or “man-made” in origin. All are plausible events, not fantastic or nigh-impossible scenarios so unlikely to occur as to be fiction or nearly so. You will not be seeing any zombie outbreaks, gamma ray bursts or alien invasions.
You will be seeing events that, while not as incredible, promise to be no less spectacular, terrible and dangerous. Truly preparing for these will involve some diligence and perhaps measures and supplies beyond what even a seasoned and self-reliant person would keep on hand. Luck, while always a factor in survival, may play a greater part in your odds than your common “everyday” disaster scenarios.
By their very nature, many of these events will have severe death tolls, either at their onset or in the aftermath, and will exact a terrible toll. Many, even the well prepared, may perish simply due to bad luck or timing. Such is the nature of true catastrophes. It is hard to accept, but there it is.
Nonetheless, you should prepare. Even the very worst disasters are often survivable if you are prepared, where an unprepared person may still perish. Much of the core preps for surviving any prolonged and protracted disaster will apply to this list, but long-term or initial sustainment and survival may require specialist equipment, knowledge or other preparation. You can find out more in the entry for each.
The List of Threats
World War III: Nuclear Exchange
A limited or major nuclear exchange between the U.S.A. and some other power or force would see unimaginable destruction or outright annihilation visited upon population centers, followed by a complete upheaval in civilian life following elimination, reduction or disruption of basic services and commerce.
Tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of deaths will happen in a heartbeat when a nuclear warhead detonates, with subsequent and follow-on casualties growing exponentially in the aftermath thanks to radiation and fallout.
The intermediate to long-term effects are tough to predict, but shortages of medical care, food and water, if not outright famine, will become the rule. Refugees from bombed areas will be enormous in number. Martial law is a certainty, and a draft call is very likely. Mass unrest and rioting, looting, and crackdowns will strain law enforcement and military personnel to their limits. America will be especially vulnerable to follow on attacks from external and internal forces at this time.
Surviving an initial nuclear strike is possible, so long as you are not near ground zero. That is best accomplished by living far from major population centers, military installations and seats of government. After that, avoiding fallout will be your number one concern, both directly and its ruinous effect on consumables. Long term assured survival will mandate having a fallback location far from populated areas, significant stores of food, CBRN gear, and expertise for dealing with irradiated areas.
The U.S.’s debt is spiraling out of control, and no amount of rebranding or tin-plate promises will forestall the inalienable laws of economics forever. Society is only three missed meals away from total pandemonium. When one day a dollar will only buy you a nickel’s worth of milk, society will unravel in short order. Riots and outright bedlam will become commonplace. There will not be enough law enforcement quell disturbances at any level, local, state or federal.
Without the rule of law, and with stomachs grumbling, the unfed and desperate will swarm like locusts. The situation will be worst, quickest, in major population centers as always. Your chances of becoming a victim will increase geometrically the longer you remain near large concentrations of people. The intolerable strain on local food supplies already totally dependent on the gears of commerce will vanish in a blink. Starvation and malnutrition will be immediate threats, as will being attacked or even killed over basic commodities.
For those fortunate enough to be in areas where barter, farming and trade may see them through, government confiscation (at gunpoint) will be a constant concern. Even in small, tight knit communities need will become a constant companion. Many will die from loss of once taken for granted things like reliable medical care, food or electricity.
Long term survival will be dependent on sustainably providing food, water and shelter. Those things will keep you alive if you can keep them; theft and brigandry will become common occurrences, perhaps even from current or former officials. Any disease or illness that requires steady access to medication or treatment may be a death sentence.
Total Loss of Power Grid
Whether from an EMP, severe solar storm or some other massive natural disaster, the result is the same: the lights are off, and they are not coming back on. It is very difficult to calculate just how far reaching the consequences will be for a nation so hopelessly dependent on technology, with electricity being the most vital and fragile part of that system.
The U.S. power grid is tottering, old and vulnerable. A cascading failure will mean the vast majority of business and services halt, probably permanently. No electricity means no computing, no refrigeration, no networks, no phones. Assuming the cause is something other than an EMP, these devices will all survive, but barring generator power and a steady supply of fuel (the extraction, processing and delivery of which is totally dependent on electricity) they will be out of commission.
Even a short term total loss of power to most or all of the country will see deaths from exposure rocket up, and shortly after deaths resulting from other complications like loss of power at care facilities. A significant portion of refrigerated food will be lost, as will the ability to make more on the industrial scale required to feed a population numbering 320 million plus. The chaos and uncertainty of such an event will see some criminal elements operate more boldly, especially in major cities. Looting will become common.
The real question is whether or not such an event could be mitigated with a coordinated government response. Despite some half-hearted assurances, it is not likely currently that the federal government has a plan for dealing with a total loss of power thanks to a regional or grid-down event.
Long term survival will be predicated on having secure and hidden stores of food, medicine and fresh water. The ability to make do with manual power for everything from transportation to farming may make the difference in the long run. A clever prepper may turn to homebrew solar, wind or hydro power, laying place such personal infrastructure ahead of time to keep the lights on and fridge cold with nary a hitch.
The above list contains the most plausible major threats to safety and security in the United States. Each one will result in long-term, enduring risk and must be met with an equally clear long-term strategy for survival. Hope is not a strategy: any of the above could happen tomorrow. It is best to plan now.