The Disaster Management Matrix

In this week’s episode I’d like to put a little managerial perspective on keeping things running smoothly during, and following a natural or man-made disaster. We’ve discussed about including each member of the family (or teammates) in the planning of the response to a disaster. We have even discussed the idea of ensuring that we have a written plan to execute during a catastrophic event, as well as proper storage locations, and exit strategies. From a logistical and managerial perspective, I’d like to make sure we have all the “oars rowing in the right direction”, just to make sure we have considered all the trains of thought. As I’ve mentioned before, and I’m sure to say again, what I am telling you is not about generating fear, it’s about being prepared. Thinking of all the things that can, and will, go wrong, and being ready for it.

Let’s get this party started, by looking at the old mail bag.

Mark asks “you’ve cover a lot of different pieces, can you tell us how to pull it all together?”

Ginger adds “there seems to be a lot of plans, are they all necessary?”

Monty asks “what exactly is a man-made” disaster?”

Brittany asks “what are the factors that go into the early decisions and being prepared?”

Monique asks “do I really need a plan to go to the grocery store? This sounds a little fear mongering to me.”

Great questions to all those who sent them in. If I didn’t get to your question, sorry about that, but don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll touch on this topic again as its really relevant to a requirement for survival.

Before we get after it today, I’d like to make sure that, for those of you who seek peace and harmony, or hep in making sense of life, be sure to check out the Alaskan Ulfhednar podcast at http://AkÚlfhé After 30 years of spiritual searching and discovery, I have arrived home. Home to the ideology of of my ancestors. Home of a proud Germanic-Dane heritage. Some good stuff for you there. Also, another second just to give a shout-out for our sponsors and affiliates:

Antennas Direct, Bad Ass Extension Cords, BrandsMart USA, Chewy, Chrome Burner,, MediTac Kits, Power Systems, SunPower, Australian Native T-Shirts, Sharesale, Survival Frog, and of course Google.

Shout out to all of them for supporting the mission here at Chaotic Navigation, we greatly appreciate taking a risk by supporting an “Outlaw” show. Please visit their links on our webpage and show them some love, they, like each of us, needs to pay their peeps.


We’ve talked about all the pieces to surviving a natural or man-made disaster, however now we need to pull it all together in that overall idea of how this thing comes together. As we’ve learned, it’s never a “one-size-fits-all” type of endeavor. Each family is different, each geographic area is different, each type of disaster is different. In addition, our team members may be in very different frames of mind when the push comes to shove. So the decision matrix may be insanely large when coming down to adapting your plan to meet the demands of this event.

Let’s kick off our discussion with the single largest challenge we are all going to face prior to, during, and following a disaster type of event, our decision matrix. There are tons of stuff that need to be considered before really getting after the decision matrix itself. I will also take a minute to stress the importance of writing down our decision factors, and sharing those factors with your teammates to ensure you have some general plan for most of the possibilities. Some general ideas to consider:

  • First thing, is what kind of construction is the building you’re in? Is it wood framed? The reason we need to be away of this, is to be able estimate the structural integrity following a disaster. All too often we overlook the structural damage that flooding can cause. Earthquakes and tornados can wreck havoc on a wood framed residence as well. Hurricanes and high wind storms can damage them as well, so there’s is a group of factors to consider.
  • Next up is the geographic terrain your residence is in. Sloping grounds both to and away the residence can has dramatic effect to the durability of the home, or building structure. This should be a serious consideration when considering, and documenting your survival decision matrix.
  • Neighbors. Herein lies addition considerations for your decision matrix. By having shared responsibilities, and/or lodging, we have to consider, not only our own factors, but now there’s too (to a point). So, thinking about where their lack of preparedness could impact ours.

Those are the considerations for our decision matrix, so now we have a bigger picture about what needs to go into the thinking for the matrix, let’s look at a simple one. This matrix is based on the “fab five”, remember those?

  1. Will the building we’re current in withstand the impact of whatever event we are facing? Which then draws up three more questions.
    1. How much time do we have to evacuate? Where would we go?
    2. What is the fastest escape route? When considering the fastest escape route, have we identified items that could fall, or be blown into that route, effectively blocking our exit? We need to be very conscious of larger items that could fall into our escape route.
  2. Will we continue to have a clean enough oxygen supply for our family? What many may not consider here is that a group of four requires 144,000 liters per hour and the dirtier (less oxygen concentration), the more necessary. If, say, we were to become trapped in a basement following a tornado, would we have enough? Setting aside the idea of broken gas lines, or nearby gaseous storage areas being compromised.
  3. Next is the temperature control, and keeping your team warm, or cool enough to continue. While most of us arctic dwellers are pretty comfortable with the idea of surviving in the cold, and some go to great lengths to ensure that, most do not consider the heat. Throughout the lower-48, we hear a lot about power outages causing deaths due to heat injuries, so it is something we definitely want in our decision matrix.
  4. Access to clean drinkable water. While many of us store large quantities of water on the chance that we don’t have access, and I’ve heard thousands of people tell me how they’ll collect rain water to drink should they need to. What most don’t recall, is that in the case of a natural disaster, the air could be contaminated, thereby making the rain droplets toxic. While having the ability to filter any water is a good idea, it needs to collaborate with the basic premise that we can continue to obtain drinking water. We need to remember that extreme hot and colds in temperature will increase the volume of water necessary to sustain our pH balance.
  5. Will we be able to maintain the necessary caloric intake for survival. By basing our calculations from an absolute minimum of 1000 calories per day/per person we can quickly understand that for a family of four, that is 4000 calories per day!! Now, I know many will argue and say that they can go without a few meals throughout this type of ordeal, however, we need to understand the long term ramifications for this type of thinking. When push comes to shove in a disaster scenario, without the proper nutrition, we may not have the strength in our arms to free ourselves, or family members from fallen furniture or worse. Ultimately, as per the “rule of three” we have three weeks to find a good source of caloric intake.

As we can see, there are many small nuggets of data that you will need to collect PRIOR TO the event occurring. We need to consider getting out, or getting home, whichever applies. While many of us store our “preps” at home, are you prepared to get back home in the case of a disaster. What about the kids? Are you prepared to get them from their school? All questions we need answers to before the event.

Our logistics and resources

As mentioned before, most of our resources are going to be stored at our home, so the question is getting there before someone else takes advantage of them. We need to consider the route necessary to get to our supplies from wherever we are. So, the major three sub events here have us at different locations, and have to get there.

  1. Out in public, shopping, visiting, or just being out and about.
  2. At work in a commercial center, or office building.
  3. At school in a large commercial building.

Where this plan needs to start is completely up to you, and depending on the logistics involved, we need to consider what are going to the be the obstacles that could prevent us from getting home. While this may not seem like much, have we ever stopped to consider the number of bridges between our offices and schools, and home? Think about the potential traffic between your current location, and getting home again. Emergency responders, utility workers, even local media reporters, as well as other individuals trying to get home too. In addition, think about routes that could be blocked by natural obstacles, trees down, buildings collapsed onto the street, and vehicle accidents.

Our plan

So, we’ve put into our thought process the necessary matrices to develop a thorough plan from beginning to end of a disaster. As you may recognize by now, the planning should be fairly extensive, and one needs to really employ one’s imagination in trying to cover as many possibilities as possible. The more we can imagine now, the less we have to “adjust” for when the shit has hit the fan.

  • Preparedness, before something happens. Most of our work should go into the planning part, ensuring that routes exist for: getting home, being home, and getting out of home if necessary. Be prepared doesn’t mean we are afraid,, it means that we are “freeing” up our minds to get our lives back to “normal” quickly following the event, instead of struggling to get through.
  • During the event, we need to focus all our energy on surviving the event. Getting ourselves and our family members to the right places, wherever that might be,  to survive the event. This should absolutely be our entire focus during the event. It is imperative that each member of the team (family) understands the needs during an event, to keep themselves safe. Sometimes they may find themselves making safe choices alone, and they need to be comfortable with that.
  • Following the event, our plan should extend from the instant the initial event subsides, to the time our life returns to normal. As you can imagine this portion of our plan may extend into years, so definitely more comprehensive. A lot of individuals I have interviewed throughout the years, have said that this phase only lasts for a day or so, and I strongly disagree. Remember this phase is engaged until our lives have returned to “normal.” Following the “Quake of 2018” here in Anchorage, it took months for my young sons to sleep through the night, in their own rooms. So, consider what your definition is for “normal”.

Again, I cannot over stress the importance of writing your plan down. Having little ones “illustrate” the plan ensures that they know what to do in the second phase (during the event), while keeping it somewhat lighter in nature. Remember, it is a proven fact that your brain will be overloaded during the second phase here, so having a step-by-step guide to get you and your family through the event, without having to rely on your overloaded brain is what this written plan can do. This frees up your thinking to getting into and through the third phase. I hope I’ve given you some ideas as to what to include in your thought process for developing a decision matrix for your unique situation. I encourage you to take some time today to develop this plan and write it down, print it out, and have it convenient when all goes to pot. The difference between surviving and “thriving” is in the amount of planning we put into our preparedness. While all the resources (preps) are important, the more important piece you can do without any financial investment, is make a plan. Yes, it is that important that we have a written plan that everyone in your team understands, and can implement at a moment’s notice.

As always my friends, I am honored and humbled that you have chosen to spend this time listening to me. I deeply appreciate each and every one of you. Being prepared provides each of us with the confidence for successful survival. We mentioned before, and will certainly say again, that survival is a 90% mental task, but that 10% of physical resources is critically important.. By having a confidence and discipline, we can and will survive. Remember to be strong, be safe, and keep your head on a swivel… Peace

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