Sunday, September 12, 2010

What's In Your Neighborhood?

The recent explosion and fire in San Bruno, California draws attention to the risks that we live with day in and day out in our neighborhoods. This event was sparked by a section of natural gas pipeline that ruptured and exploded. The pipeline was categorized as "high risk" because it was routed beneath the streets of a residential neighborhood.

So the question I ask is, "What's in your neighborhood?"

Part of the challenge to avoid disaster is to know what the risks are. It's called Situational Awareness — being aware of the situation. Most folks either don't know what the potential risks are, or they brush them off and think they are of no consequence. Then something like the San Bruno explosion happens and a few people start to think about what might happen in their own area.

Okay, so let’s do a personal risk assessment that pertains to where we live, work and travel each day. That will cover most of the time we spend in this life. You can do this by using the checklist included here. Feel free to add to the menu if you discover risks that are not on this list. The point is to help you become aware of the situation around you.

Do you live or work around any of the following? I call this list Fifty Ways To Meet Your Maker

  • natural gas lines or propane storage facility 
  • fuel refinery 
  • nuclear power plant 
  • downstream of a dam 
  • chemical manufacturing plant
  • fireworks or explosives factory 
  • electrical power plant 
  • hazardous waste site 
  • avalanche zone 
  • floodplain 
  • earthquake fault 
  • railway line (train wreck, hazardous materials) 
  • major highway (transporting hazardous materials) 
  • area prone to wildfire
  •  hurricane zone 
  • tornado zone 
  • bear or cougar country 
  • rattlesnake (or other nasty varmint) habitat 
  • hospital (medical waste) 
  • coastline (storm surge, tsunami) 
  • forest (falling trees) 
  • desert (sandstorm) 
  • severe winter area (blizzard, ice storm, power outage, inability to travel) 
  • major city (loss of services to a large population, riots, terror attack) 
  • hilltop (fire) 
  • canyon (flood) 
  • water treatment plant (contamination) 
  • water storage tanks (rupture flood) 
  • overhead power lines (storm, electrocution, fire) 
  • agricultural area (pesticides) 
  • landslide / mudslide area 
  • area known for sink holes 
  • harbor (contamination, terror attack) 
  • airport (airplane accident) 
  • bad neighborhood (gang activity) 
  • dump (contamination, rats, other vermin) 
  • river, stream, or natural drainage (flooding) 
  • multi-story building (apartment or office fire, inability to escape) 
  • bank or other business with large amounts of money (armed robbery / hostage situation) 
  • volcano (lava flow, eruption, lahar, vog) 
  • hot region (drought, dehydration, heat-related injury, water shortage) 
  • shooting range (accidental stray rounds) 
  • military base (possible terror attack) 
  • community swimming pool (chemical spill) 
  • cell tower, wind generator, radio or TV antenna towers (widowmakers) 
  • farm/ranch, or ag supply, feed store, etc. (pesticide or other chemicals) 
  • paint shop (chemicals) 
  • prison or jail (escapees / home invasion / hostage situation) 
  • area fed by overhead power lines (power outage during storms)
  • city water supply (contamination)
This whole exercise is aimed at increasing awareness that there are potential risks everywhere. If we fail to be alert to them, we leave ourselves vulnerable. It’s much better to face reality so we can make decisions that will improve our chances of survival. I don’t want you to wake up in the middle of the night surrounded by a world in chaos and say, “My gosh, I never thought this could happen!” I want you to think of everything that can possibly happen. Then formulate a survival plan, and then follow through and make the physical preparations to deal with whatever comes up. 

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