From projected natural disasters to new terrorist concerns, the new year may have a lot in store for us. Prepping is all about being one step ahead, so get a jump on 2018 with us as we go through the potential threats in weather, natural disasters, finances, health, cybercrime, terrorism, and food security.
Along the way, we’ll include resources to help you stay up to date in each area throughout the year.
Weather: Cold and Drought
Those of us in the North-East are already experiencing a harsh winter and it is set to continue. Sure, you hopefully have your plans for a cold power-outage and for tricky road conditions in the bag. But if you don’t, it’s still better to get prepared now than find yourself without supplies in the coming months.
We also have plenty of resources you can use to brush-up your winter survival skills. Here’s how to stay comfortable during a winter power outage, how to survive a fall through ice, and how to prepare your home for winter.
As far as normal but not-comfortable weather goes, the southern United States are experiencing their own problems continuing into the middle of the year. Southern drought is driven (generally speaking here—weather is complicated) by the same force causing below average temperatures in the north: an ocean current cycle called La Niña.
NOAA predicts that the droughts in parts of Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Utah, will likely continue through March. Though northern, the Dakotas are also set to continue to experience drought.
Drought conditions are likely to develop in Southern California, Nevada, West Texas, the parts of Oklahoma which not already experiencing drought, and all along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts up to Delaware.
Drought isn’t always a prepper worthy concern, but some years it can be, and it can make natural disasters much worse, especially forest fires. To keep on top of important weather updates through 2018 check in at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center every three months (that’s the length of their long-term predictions).
Natural Disasters: Earthquakes
Generally, natural disasters are hard to predict, especially for a whole year. However, researchers have good reason to believe that 2018 will send plenty of earthquakes our way.
Two geologists— Roger Bilham from the University of Colorado and Rebecca Bendick from the University of Montana, published new research suggesting that small slowdowns in the rotation of the Earth increases pressure on the Earth’s crust—leading to earthquakes.
The Earth’s crust and core are on such a massive scale that it takes six or so years for a slowdown’s pressure to reach the surface and increase earthquakes. If the researchers are correct, the slow-down of 2011 is set to hit us as earthquakes now. Where? For now, we can’t predict with any certainty which fault lines will be effected.
Much of the United States is already earthquake prone, so double-checking your preps or learning about earthquake preps for the first time is still a good idea whether 2018 is particularly bad or not. Here’s our guide on how to prepare for an earthquake.
The Economy and Your Finances
The United States economy had a stellar year in 2017. While it’s true that what goes up must come down, the economy isn’t expected to fall in 2018, instead it’s projected to grow.
So what is there to prep for? Rising interest rates. The Federal Reserve has already decided to raise interest rates three times in 2017. They intend to raise the rates again in 2018– three more times, according to NewsMax.
What does that mean for a prepper? It could mean moving to a fixed interest rate, paying off your loans quickly, changing your investments to higher risks– there’s plenty of options that may or may not fit your personal circumstances.
Just because the country on average is more prosperous, doesn’t mean you specifically are guaranteed to be financially secure, of course. But, this is a good time to re-evaluate your financial situation and its relationship to prepping. Maybe this is a good time to focus less on prep for financial collapse and give more energy prepping for more probable SHTF events.
Health: Superbugs and Flu Shots
So-called “super bugs” are bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics and are therefore extremely challenging to treat successfully. Two of the major super bugs in America are C. difficile, an intestinal bacteria, and MRSA, which is a staph infection that can infect your skin and is particularly troubling when children develop pneumonia from it.
We’ve been hearing about this threat for years, so why focus on it for the new year? Antibiotic resistance is still growing, according to the WHO. This isn’t just a global problem, these bacteria are also a concern in the US, particularly in hospitals.
Back in July of 2017 a study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that the worst kind of C. difficile infections, that come back again and again, had risen 200 percent from 2001 to 2012. Thankfully, at least the rate of MRSA infections is dropping.
How do you prep for a superbug? Look up your local hospital’s rate of infection and avoid those that are above average in transmitting the infections, if possible. In particular, large teaching hospitals tend to have the worst rates of infection. Secondly, it may be a good idea to remind your doctor to change their gloves before they touch you. It’s not that doctors don’t care– its that they are human and can forget.
Third, practice good hand hygiene especially when in the hospital. Wash your hands with soap and running warm water, and remember that C. difficile’s protective shell means it can sometimes dodge hand sanitizers, as well as the bleach-based cleaning agents hospitals use.
While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to brush up your pandemic prep.
The flu shot for the 2016-2017 flu season was not very effective, at only 42 percent according to CNN. It’s too early to know if this year’s flu shot was more effective– but the evidence seems to suggest we are having a rough time already.
Concerns began cropping up about this year’s season when doctors witnessed how rough Australia had it during their season. Researchers frequently use Australia’s experience as a way to predict the flu in North America.
Then, in early December, the CDC’s report suggested that visits to the doctors for flu based symptoms were above average for the time of year, and that the main strains of the flu in the public don’t seem to match the strains that researchers focused on when developing this year’s shot.
Peak flu season is December through February, and you may get the flu as late as May, so there is still time to prepare yourself. Of course, you can do much more to prepare yourself for next season. Mark your calendar in October with a reminder to get your flu shot, stock up on chicken soup and soap, and do any other flu-based prep.
The best way to keep abreast of flu news, and news on any infectious disease, is to follow the CDC’s . Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report you can also find information about outbreaks both in the US and internationally on the CDC’s outbreak page here.
Cyber Threats: Crime and Power Grids
There’s a good reason I’m placing crime and cyberthreats together, cybercrime is a growing threat. The managing director of the Information Security Forum, Steve Durbin, says that data breaches will grow this year.
According to CIO, Durbin says, “In 2018, we will see increased sophistication in the threat landscape with threats being personalized to their target’s weak spots or metamorphosing to take account of defenses that have already been put in place. These days, the stakes are higher than ever before.”
Durbin also mentions that cybercrime saw a “huge increase” in 2017, and criminal organizations will further invest in cybercrime in the new year. While previously cybercrime has been directed at large organizations, and that will certainly continue, he predicts that more individuals will be targeted as well.
In 2017 the Equifax breach left almost half of all US citizen with compromised data, from SSI numbers to other vital information. How much higher do the stakes get?
While most of us know how to protect ourselves and our families from thefts in the physical world, how many of us know how to protect ourselves from digital theft?
Personally, digital prepping is a huge blind spot for me, and I’ve made it my New Year’s Resolution to take steps to secure my information online. I’m starting with two Backdoor Survival articles that caught my interest, but which I didn’t put into practice yet: VPN’s for Survival and Communications and Network Security in an Insecure World. My colleagues Eric and Samantha are way ahead of me on this one!
Cybercrime can affect more than our information though. Durbin also talks about the vulnerability of the supply chain, and to that we could add the vulnerability of the power grid. Preppers have been talking about these two issues for years, of course, but the digital age is bringing new challenges to securing both the food and power grids.
Consider the 2015 and 2016 cyber attacks on Ukraine’s power grid. Malware was uploaded onto a computer system in their power grid, and experts still aren’t sure how this was done, as Wired explains.
But, the malware was able to search through the power grid, target physical components of the grid, and shut a huge portion of the capital city, Kiev’s, power down. The outage lasted for an hour, but similar techniques have been used to completely destroy infrastructure, as the US did to an Iranian nuclear plant in 2009.
The US likely has much better grid protection than Ukraine, but we could still suffer a short or long-term grid outage as a result of a cyber attack. So, it’s a good idea to rush up on your power outage preps. Backdoor Survival has articles on general power outage preparedness, water, food safety, and DIY power generators, to help you out.
But, with the vulnerability of all kinds of grids, from food supply chains to sewer systems, it’s no surprise that some preppers are choosing to head off-grid completely. If you’re thinking about being offgrid in 2018 we have a few guides for you including: the best places to live off-grid, the best books for off-grid living, how to get ready to go off-grid, and more.
Terrorism: Changing ISIS
As far as territory goes, ISIS was obliterated in 2017. They lost their major cities, and essentially all of their territory expect for small holdings in Syria and Iraq. While the Military Times talks about ISIS’ focus on South Asia and Africa, the direct threat to Americans at home is still lone-wolf style terror attacks.
Unfortunately, most experts don’t believe that these attacks will slow down just because ISIS has been uprooted from it’s territory. Patrick Dunleavy, writing for Fox News, believes that online attempts to recruit terrorists in the US will continue, even grow.
A former Department of Homeland Security official and counterterrorism expert, Peter Vincent, appears to agree while speaking to NBC. Yet, Richard Barrett, former M16 counterterrorisim director, believes attacks will slow down.
Time will tell who is right, but, meanwhile, no one thinks terror attacks will stop, so it’s still best to be prepared for them. A disturbing new trend we’ve seen in New York, and throughout Europe, is vehicle attacks. Joe and Amy Alton covered the topic for us here, in a very informative article.
You can keep up with the latest news about terror threats through the, FBI’s Terrorism News Portal which also has news on gangs and critical infrastructure (including cyber attacks), if those are concerns for you.
While hopefully 2018 won’t bring horrible attacks or disasters, it’s better to be aware of what kind of threats are more likely than others. There is always a way to be better prepared.
My prepper New Year resolution is to start protecting my online data better. Do you have a prepper New Years resolution, and if so, what is it?
Author Bio: Ellysa Chenery also writes for Young Domestics and Western Journalism. She loves adapting traditional skills for new situations, whether in the wilderness, garden, or homestead. Her favorite smell is carrots fresh from the dirt.
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