While a series of disasters or chain reactions from individual ones can cause societal level breakdowns, most disasters are localized and preparing for them is slightly different. In most disasters, outside help is on the way so the requirements are much less intensive than are preparations for societal level collapses. The keys are information, short term food and water, shelter, and security to a lesser extent. The likelihood of disasters is also much more dependent on your geographic location, so some disaster specific items are more important than others in certain areas.
Hurricanes: Our most recent example of the awful ramifications of a general lack of preparedness happened just a few years ago when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. How much would evacuation plans, several days worth of stored food, and some personal security items have helped those victims?
Earthquakes: Watch the news about Japan. What would the people in those hard hit areas give for a stock pile of food, some electronic communication devices, and some comfort items?
Solar Flare: The least understood but perhaps the most dangerous, did you know a massive solar flare could knock out portions of if not the entire power grid? Could you imagine what that would do to our economy built on “just in time” inventories and computerized records and transfers? I won’t bore you with the details, but if you do the research, you’ll find that we are over due for a big one;
Volcanic Eruptions: Remember Iceland fairly recently? That eruption hampered air traffic and caused minor climate and agricultural issues in Iceland in Northern Europe. Guess what? That one that made headlines for weeks was about a hundredth the size of one back in 1886. Ash plumes can be devastating to surrounding areas.
Terrorism: While mostly localized, a well coordinated EMP attack could certainly take down the power grid, computer viruses could mess up the financial system, or “dirty bombs” set off in population centers or in water supplies could lead to an overwhelming of civil services. William Forstchens’s book, One Second After, is a sobering tale of how a EMP caused my a single nuclear device could literally bring an entire society down. This book is not only a riveting read, its author is a renowned professor with a PHD, has been quoted on the floor of the House of Representatives and has written numerous books with Newt Gingrich…hardly a crack pot sci-fi writer! Check out his detailed description of an EMP at his website: http://forstchen.com/
Most disasters are rather easily planned for because they are short in duration and either outside help will be available, or there are places you can go for some semblance of normalcy. The 72-hour kits, disaster kits, and emergency preparedness kit that are sold as prepackaged, one stop shopping items are geared more towards these types of events. They aren’t a bad idea at all and many of the items inside these kits are useful in larger societal level scenarios as well. Our site tends to focus more on survival and preparedness for total collapse. If you’re prepared for that, disasters prep is already well in hand.