According to the Association of State Dam Safety, nearly 2,000 state-regulated high-hazard dams in the United States were listed as being in need of repair in 2015.
More concerning, by 2020, 70% of the dams in the U.S. will be more than 50 years old, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Currently, there are over 90,000 dams in the U.S. with 8,000 of them classified as “Major” because of their height or capacity.
Recently, a dam failed at a Brazilian iron mine causing mining debris to spill into the mine’s administrative area, where employees were working. 427 people had been in the iron mine when the dam burst and many remain unaccounted for.
The dam’s breach flooded parts of the southeastern state of Minas Gerais with mining debris and mud.
In the days following the dam failure, hundreds were missing and the death toll continues to rise. The problem is, because of heavy debris and mud, searchers have been unable to account for many of the mineworkers.
In an effort to locate the missing, the Brazilian Federal Court issued a ruling that mobile carriers must provide data from the cell phone signals of people who were in the region where the dam broke.
It’s no secret that the U.S. has an aging infrastructure making it even more critical that you be aware of potential dangers that may be close to your home.
For instance, many Californians remember in 2017 when the Oroville Dam emergency spillway was used for the first time since the dam was built and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to evacuate in case the dam failed.
Keeping this in mind, I want to share with you some tips for creating a threat assessment map. For this I recommend printing a map online with your home in the center.
You can choose a radius as big as you want but I would start with a 5 -mile radius, then 10 mile, then 25 mile.
Potential dangers. When you think about what could be a potential danger during a disaster, you need to think outside the box.
Something such as a factory or zoo may seem like a harmless building, but what if the factory released toxic gases after an earthquake? Or what if the tigers at the zoo escaped? I realize that’s a big what if, but you need to take it into consideration.
Some of the top places I would mark on your map are chemical plants/refineries, power stations, dams and reservoirs, jails and prisons, and choke points such as a bridges.
Assets. After you’ve identified potential dangers, you should look for places that could be an asset during a disaster situation. For example, you should identify police and fire stations, hospitals, and nearby schools.
Most of these places could offer safety in the event you needed to flee your home. In addition, I would also note where grocery stores and gas stations are located in case you are forced to get supplies while getting out of town.
Places to avoid. I have one word for you, Superdome. Sadly, you will remember during Hurricane Katrina that people packed the Superdome in New Orleans and it was a complete mess.
This is why I highly advise against going to places such as large shelters or community centers during a disaster. I would rather build up my survival gear and food storage to avoid the chaos that can occur at these types of places.
Other buildings I would stay clear of are airports and bus or train stations. The problem is, everyone will want to get out of town and these places will quickly become overcrowded.
You will obviously need to customize this map to the area where you live. If you live 20 miles from the nearest sign of civilization, then you may need to make your map extend 100 miles.
You can easily create multiple maps for your family and have them color-coded so you can quickly identify potential dangers and assets.
The reality is, when disaster hits, you won’t have the time to think about where all these places are located and you can simply look at your map and see what you should avoid.