15 Catastrophic Events You MUST Prepare For, Their Possible Consequences, and How You Can be Ready
**This article is about 15 catastrophic events that could happen during our life times and why you, as a citizen, need to be at least minimally prepared.
Just imagine: The power suddenly goes out. Everything is completely silent. No cars run. The internet is gone. Cell phones don’t work. The water no longer runs. The air conditioner (or heater) has quit.
You realize you should run to the store to grab a few items just in case so you can make it through a couple of days of power outage….but then you finally understand your car won’t get you to the store…..This goes on for days, and your food and any water you had available is gone.
What happens next? It’s pretty ugly. This is the beginning of just one of the catastrophes that could change the face of our world as we know it. And it’s WHY you NEED to be prepared.
Mr. V. and I just started reading an excellent and thought-provoking book called A Failure of Civility by Mike Garand and Jack Lawson, both seasoned professional military men with experience in special operations. Well, we are only in chapter 3, and it is eye-opening. Scary. Downright. Scary.
I think the book must be out of print, because I looked for it on Amazon to give you the link, but the only copies there are used and are selling from about $675! WHOA! Right? (I’m wondering WHY it’s out of print, since it is such an excellent book. Suspicious mind, I guess.)
One of our neighbors lent it to us, and I admit: It’s been hard to tear my eyes away from the pages in this book.
Most people still don’t believe they need to be prepared for an emergency. Most people don’t even have the words “possible disaster” on their radars, let alone preparedness.
Here’s an example of this: I was in a meeting with some other homestead bloggers today, and one of us brought up writing an article with a “prepper” twist. What shocked me was that using a preparedness approach to the article was what made the most sense to me, and many of the others were, well, surprised and shocked!
About watching the news:
Mr. V. and I do not have cable TV, and our internet is often quite sketchy. So, we don’t watch the news. But last night I decided to turn on YouTube so I could see if there was anything going on…..
I was shocked once again. (I know I shouldn’t be, but when you live in a little blissful bubble, our world is a crazy place.)
Here is what we saw on the tube last night: Civil unrest (the beginning of a revolution one man stated) in France, a huge snow storm that’s already devastating parts of the Southeast U.S., floods in Texas, an earthquake in Alaska…..
We NEED to be thinking along the lines of being prepared for a disaster of some type. Heck! We need to be ready at all times!
Our homestead blogging meeting today was a wake-up call to me that even among people who espouse self-reliance (homesteaders in general) the thought of preparedness for tragedy is not necessarily something all homesteaders think about and therefore do not prepare for.
I don’t care where you live: California, Kansas, Upstate New York, Vermont, an island in the middle of the ocean, the farthest mountain-top…. something could happen anywhere.
We need to be thinking about potential disaster events so that we can do our best as families and individuals to be prepared and to be able to live through it with relative ease…
To consider working together in groups for protection should our world as we know it disappear. And—to be able to help others, if we have the additional resources to do so.
There is that saying: History repeats itself. If we think back over the course of mankind and what we know about the history of the earth, the catastrophic events I will share with you have happened before. Therefore, they could absolutely happen again.
Some of these are more likely than others, of course. Especially given the current events in our own country and around the world, I believe a serious catastrophe is possible in our lifetimes that would change the world as we know it.
Some preppers call this TEOTWAKI (The End of the World as We Know It), while others just say, “When the SHTF.” Either way, it’s bad.
But if you are prepared, if you have taken the opportunity beforehand to have discussions with close neighbors and family and have put a plan together, you have a much greater chance of surviving a catastrophe that is localized or world wide.
We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our neighbors to be ready as much as we can be.
What are these potential catastrophic events that could happen? Let’s take a look!
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
But First, What IS a Catastrophic Event?
The authors of A Failure of Civility define a catastrophic event to be something that “will interrupt your normal life and that of the majority of people around you…and it may progress to cause extreme suffering and death.”
I’ll discuss some of the consequences of a catastrophic event below. Although not all consequences will be the same, the actions of people in response to a disaster is similar. Most people will not be on their best behavior.
15 Potential Catastrophes That Could Happen in Our Lifetimes and Possible Consequences
The consequences of these are varied, but all ultimate consequences are roughly similar without prompt actions to repair the situation: disintegration of civil attitudes toward one another, violence, suffering, and more.
Any of these events could cause people to be without critical supplies of foods and water anywhere from a few days to indefinitely. And without food and water?
People get desperate. (I’m planning another article on the mindset of desperation after this, so stay tuned.)
People will stoop to doing things to help themselves and their families that would be unconscionable in normal circumstances. Things will get downright ugly.
I don’t want you to think I personally live in fear all the time of these things happening. I don’t.
However, I think the wise person considers potential threats and takes measures to protect hearth and home. The best time to get yourself prepared is when everything is all well and good. In fact, it’s the ONLY time to get prepared.
You can read the story of my Get Home Bag and how to put one together for yourself here. It’s an example of an event that happened to me personally that caused me to realize I needed that bag!
The thing with disaster events is that more than one or even two catastrophes can occur in an area at one time because one event may actually cause another one (or two).
Here are some catastrophic events that have actually happened in world history or currently, and they could happen again. In fact, the Law of Averages says we are overdue for another one (or three):
1) Financial Collapse of the U.S. and/or World Economies
A financial collapse would mean depression, hyper-inflation, and most likely mass unemployment. Are you prepared for the possibility of not bringing in an income to purchase necessities like food and water for your family?
Our country experienced a severe financial catastrophe during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. People lost homes, families were split up and disrupted, and many people starved. Hoovervilles (tent cities of homeless) sprang up around major urban areas, and many people were hanging on by a thread. Many others died.
NOTE: You might like this article: 10 Money Saving Tips from Survivors of the Great Depression. And, if you want a great book to read with upper elementary and older students, I recommend the award-winning chapter book: Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis. My students loved it every year! It’s an excellent story of a young boy alone in the world during the time of the Great Depression and how he gets along.
But I digress.
So, what would a financial collapse mean for us?
If the U.S. economy were to collapse in these modern times, it would happen overnight. Banks would no longer extend credit, nor would we be able to retrieve our cash. Banks would essentially close down.
As far as food and supplies go, demand would exceed supply to the point that people would become violent, especially in highly populated urban areas. People would go into pure survival mode, and this means hurting others.
Eventually, for those who survive the starvation that would most likely occur in large urban areas, and also for those in rural areas, barter systems would be set up. These are traditional economies, where people would trade services and items for other items and services they need.
These are extreme examples of what life may be like in the event of a financial crisis, but it’s best to be prepared as much as possible with stores of food and water for your family.
Think about that for a moment. Just pretend there is NO more money, the stores are no longer stocked (or if they are, food costs are five times as much if not more). Do you have a plan?
I’ll talk about preparedness at the end of this list. And if you want my free downloadable preparedness checklist, just complete the form at the end of the article.
Here is a great article that explains what an economic collapse would look like here in the U.S.
2) Cyber Hacking and/or Computer Viruses
Our entire world is run by computers these days. Everything. Vehicles. Our homes. Our phones. Even our utilities. All it would take is one good hack, and a city could be left without electricity. And that means no water. No gas pumps. No power.
Maybe you’re thinking, “So what?”
Well, certain things like food and water are considered critical supplies. Without these, people die quickly. And when a LOT or people realize how much trouble they’re in (because of not being prepared), things will get really bad really fast—-like within a day or maybe two.
Did you know that stores only keep about three days of food on hand? Without the transportation to bring more food to the stores, that’s all folks would have access to, and what is there will most likely be looted due to lack of law enforcement.
Besides these devastations, a cyber hack on financial institutions could cause transactions and email to shut down. If the banking disruptions were bad enough, this could even contribute to an economic collapse (see above).
3) EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse)
EMP’s are electro-magnetic pulses that can be set off in the earth’s atmosphere by either a powerful solar flare (and scientists have been monitoring these) OR (imho) worse, a terrorist attack caused by nuclear explosion in the atmosphere.
An EMP would immediately take us back in time to the Dark Ages. No automotive transportation, no food in the stores (because people will loot and steal it all within days), no water, no communications, and on and on….
For an industrialized nation like the United States, this would be devastating with far-reaching consequences that are truly unimaginable. A complete destruction of the power grid would annihilate all except those who live off-grid. And if water isn’t available via a solar or manual pump, it will affect these folks too.
An EMP, to me, is one of the most frightening of all of these disaster events. PLEASE read William Fortschen’s realistic fiction book, One Second After. It’s a realistic look at what the world may be like after an EMP. This man knows what he is talking about, as he worked with government agencies regarding this issue.
His book, One Second After, is one of the best descriptions of what an EMP event would do to a small town, let alone a large city or a large portion of the United States. It’s entertaining too, and will keep you riveted. It’s also available on Audible.
4) Civil Conflict
In the past 20 (or more) years, our country has become divided among racial, sexual, economic, ethnic, and political lines. Our country (and dare I say world) is more divided now than ever before.
**NOTE: What ever happened to our country’s motto: United we stand; Divided we fall?
The fact is that potentially, these divisions could escalate into battles and maybe into war. The Great Civil War in our country happened once——could it happen again?
I think so.
Right now, people are so angry on all sides, some painful things have already happened. Take the Black Lives Matter movement, which was a pretty big deal for months prior to the results of this last election. Or during the same time period, what about the hatred and abuse directed toward our law enforcement officers?
In all my years, I’ve never seen anything like this! What happened to the peaceful protests (that actually worked) of Dr. Martin Luther King?
I have heard that in 2015, there was even a military exercise called Jade-Helm 15 across multiple states that appears to pit states against each other. So-called “hostile” states are those that believe in the Constitution and tote guns and love their religion.
Conspiracy theory? A jest? A reality? Who knows?
The real reality is that civil unrest caused by class warfare (or socio-economic problems), racial/ethnic wars, and divisive belief systems where a complete lack of respect for another side’s viewpoints could eventually cause some very serious problems in our country.
Crop failure could be a real issue in the years coming up. The way big Ag and big Government is treating the land is deplorable. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are ruining the earth. Erosion is a real thing.
Then there is the issue of GMO. It is my understanding these seeds are not viable. They have to be engineered every crop season.
Even hybrid seeds are only good for a few years, if you are into saving seeds. You can find out more in this article: Why You Need a Seed Bank.
All of our eggs are in one basket, with commodity crops like soy, corn, and wheat. If any or all of these fail (which is possible), far-reaching famine could be a thing.
Plus, with most of the economic power belonging to just one or two very large corporations (seed/pesticide companies) we basically have a monopoly for food in the hands of enormous corporate entities who really don’t care about the citizenry. It’s all about the money.
I’ll admit, I don’t know a lot about this kind of thing, and I’m sure famines could be caused by multiple other reasons (drought for example), but famine has happened before, and it could happen again.
I believe the more arrogant our human race becomes with the food supply, the more likely and worse a potential disaster like this could be.
You know what would be like gold in this event? Seeds. Heirloom seeds. And a little land and water.
6) Cold Summer
A cold summer is one in which crops won’t grow due to cold winds and storms that occur outside the winter season—during times when plants and food should be growing.
I hadn’t heard of this catastrophe until I read about it in the above book, A Failure of Civility. When I researched it, it turns out it has happened in our recent past, just two hundred years ago!
Most of the effects of this Cold Summer occurred in the New England states (N.E. America) and Northern Europe. People and animals starved for lack of food during these years.
It turns out, scientists now know, that several huge volcanic eruptions happened in various places around the world that caused ash to be carried into the atmosphere.
These eruptions (that killed over 10,000 in one event) caused the sun’s rays to not reach earth as normal, causing freezing of the Great Lakes and other areas. As wind blew across these frozen areas, the cold was intensified and nothing flourished.
Could we survive a year or two or more of a Cold Summer?
We talked about famine above, and drought is closely related, as it is one of the factors that could cause a famine.
But drought in and of itself would cause water in general to not be available.
Water is a concern as I speak. Even now, in the most atrocious of cities, Las Vegas, NV, the authorities in that area are busy sucking the water out of the northern agricultural counties of NV. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Done. No mas.
What about California? California’s greedy fingers are ever-reaching for the water of neighboring states. As we moved here just a few months ago to Idaho, I am hearing it is an issue some people are discussing even up here!
Millions of people are living in areas where resources are scarce, especially water. It’s a foolish thing, and it speaks to the ignorance and arrogance of our modern civilization.
That’s all I’ll say about that, as I feel a rant coming on.
8) Dirty Bomb Explosion
According to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC), a dirty bomb is a type of RDD (radiological dispersal device) that is combined with conventional explosives. Therefore, this type of bomb combines radiation poisoning with your typical dynamite, etc.
We are all aware of what a nuclear bomb explosion would do to our world, so I won’t even go into that, but a dirty bomb is different.
A dirty bomb would cause serious damage from the explosives, but far worse is what the dispersal of radioactive particles would do to an area. I believe we’d have a localized situation of mass hysteria.
This would most likely be a terrorist act with the objective of causing extreme anxiety, far-reaching illness, and immediate hysteria.
9) Biological or Chemical Terrorist Attacks
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), the United States is definitely vulnerable to this kind of terrorist attack.
“Terrorist incidents in the United States and elsewhere involving bacterial pathogens, nerve gas, and a lethal plant toxin, has demonstrated the United States is vulnerable to biological and chemical threats, as well as explosives.”
This type of attack is likely to be “covert” meaning the effects would not be immediately seen or felt due to the time needed for the illness or reaction to become evident. Therefore this kind of attack is more difficult to watch out for.
On preparedness: When I was teaching elementary school children, we used to have “Shelter-in-Place” drills in which an alarm would sound. The teacher would then rush around to slap a piece of masking tape on the outside door of the classroom indicating she/he knew to tape around the outside of the door and cover the inside vents with plastic.
Well, I’ll be honest. Most teachers (including myself) didn’t have enough tape (nor was it thick enough, in my opinion) to keep small particles out. In addition there was no way I was capable of covering vents in my classroom due to a lack of a ladder and plastic. Just saying.
Is our country prepared to handle an attack such as one of these? You be the judge.
10) Nation- or World-wide Pandemic
This type of catastrophe is becoming more and more possible. We all know how the overuse of antibiotics is causing mutations of bacteria to form, and there are now “super” bugs that are resistant to antibiotics.
Not only are doctors in general over-prescribing antibiotics, did you know that about 70% of the antibiotic use in our country is for meat production? And then we eat the meat. You really REALLY need to read, “Don’t Eat That Meat.” It’s eye-opening.
What do you think would happen in this case?
11) Natural Disasters
And then there are natural disasters. Just last night, as we watched the news for the first time in months, Mr. V. and I were horrified to see: floods, earthquakes, references to massive fires, and a severe snow storm in our country alone.
Then there are tornadoes, avalanches, and other types of natural disasters.
Are you prepared for what could happen in your area?
12) Nuclear Winter
A nuclear winter could be caused by an asteroid hitting the surface of the earth or potentially much worse, a nuclear bomb explosion that causes soot and ash to explode into the atmosphere, partially obscuring the sun’s rays.
A nuclear winter would be an after effect of an actual nuclear bomb explosion. I won’t go into the horrific effects of an actual nuclear explosion, but the long-term aftermath could be much, much worse for any survivors.
13) Magnetic Pole Reversal or Shifts
The earth’s magnetic poles have shifted hundreds of times in the history of the earth, scientists say. Essentially, this is when the north and south poles exchange places and evidently is supposed to occur over a very long time (1,000 to 10,000 years).
Some information states this could be catastrophic to the human race. Other scientists say not to worry about it.
14) World War III
Based on everything I’ve written above, I’m sure you have the gist of what the potential effects of a WWIII could be to us. No matter how you try to figure out the consequences, it’s just not good.
This type of pandemic would be similar to a pandemic caused by super bugs, except I think people may have a little more control over the consequences. I hope.
Preparing for a Catastrophic Event
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here because really, much about how you prepare is contingent on where you live. What are your resources? How populated of an area do you live in? Can you grow your own food? Do you have plentiful water?
You need to think about these things. How able would you and your family be to survive in any one of these disaster situations?
Then you need to start taking preparedness actions now, according to your abilities.
I was visiting the local Deseret Industries, a local LDS food distribution shop and thrift store that sells not only thrift items but sells food for home storage at very reasonable prices down in Vegas several years ago.
I got into a discussion with the manager about costs (because of how cheap the cost was) of the food.
She told me that she sees people come in every single week or two weeks, depending on their pay period, and even if they are low-income, they will spend as little as $20 each visit. Over time, a person, even on a limited budget, can amass quite a good food storage.
You can do this too!
You can find out more about long term food storage and where to buy here: Home Storage Prices and Locations. The prices may look a little high, but remember: these are for CASES of dried foods in #10 cans (the really large ones) that can last upwards of 30 years. I think it’s a deal.
I know some people who even use this inexpensive, yet quality, food to fee their families on an ongoing basis as they rotate their food storage.
Even though I’m not LDS, I admire and appreciate how they take self-reliance seriously. It’s a benefit and an. example to us all. And….it’s open to everyone. Please take a look.
There are other ways to obtain inexpensive foods for emergency storage too. You can read this article about Home Food Storage and How to Easily Get Yours Started in that link.
I only talked briefly about food, here. BUT there’s a whole array of areas you need to be prepared in.
I recommend you read this article: How to Be Prepared: 8 Important Considerations. It gives a great overview of things you need to take into consideration. It will get you thinking about how to get yourself and family going.
Final Thoughts About Catastrophes That Could Happen to You and Me
I am not trying to be a fear monger. Not at all.
Although this topic is uncomfortable, and most people will seriously just turn their heads and snicker at the thought of any of these occurrences actually happening to THEM of all people…we have seen over and over in history that stuff happens.
Sometimes we can predict events, but more often we can’t. And what you have available to you to protect and feed yourself and your family in simple basic needs is what you will have. Do you have enough?
Are you ready?
If you are not (and Mr. V and I aren’t ready, I can admit), just start doing something now. Do little things each week. Trust me, they will add up. Before you know it, you’ll have a plan for water and food. You’ll hopefully have considered protection. And be sure to take care of your spiritual matters as well.
What do you think? How prepared are you?
I’d love you to leave some comments in the comments section, and so would the rest of us!
You might also enjoy these articles:
You can also find articles on foraging medicinal and edible herbs as well as home remedies like these on the blog too:
Nine Best Herbs to Use for Pain Relief…. and lots more!
Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
P.S. You can soon find a Prepper Checklist (coming soon to the Resource Library) so you can start thinking about surviving a disaster.
But right now, there are eBooks, guides, cheat sheets, and more in the free Resource Library. Some of these involve DIY, home remedies, etc., but they all have to do with being self-reliant. It’s free when you subscribe to the newsletter. And of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.
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