What’s Your THIRA?

Amber Walbeck
4 min readJan 19, 2021

Find out now — because preparing for avalanches in Houston instead of hurricanes will bury you.

Avalanche, panneau dans les Alpes, Beaufortain France by Brandelet Didier — stock.adobe.com

If we don’t know what we’re facing, we won’t know how — and most importantly why — to prepare. Establishing a baseline of our threats and hazards is the first step toward developing a unique disaster profile and preparedness plan.

What Is a THIRA?

The United States has a stunning and diverse landscape. However, the spectacular beauty of Yellowstone in Wyoming sits atop a supervolcano, while the breathtaking Everglades in Florida are an off-ramp on the hurricane superhighway. Each area will have its own unique needs when it comes to preparing for disasters.

One of the tools emergency managers use is called a Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA). It’s a process that helps them determine which natural, technological, and human-caused events may affect their communities. The outcome is a unique list of the threats and hazards most likely to challenge the communities’ capabilities. Emergency managers then develop plans to prepare for, respond to, and recover from those events.

Similarly, we — and by “we” I mean you and me — need to also use these identified threats and hazards unique to our communities to educate and develop our personal disaster profiles and preparedness plans.

The current pandemic has hopefully opened your eyes to the concept that we’re not invincible and that disasters — natural, technological, and human caused — are inevitable. Don’t worry, you weren’t the only one who was caught unprepared for the pandemic. However, many of us had to face not only the pandemic, but also earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, and a litany of other disasters as well. Don’t let this opportunity to develop and execute a preparedness plan pass.

Kelly Echeverria, the emergency manager for Washoe County in northern Nevada, talked about the importance of knowing your region’s specific risks on the Plan My Disaster podcast (Ep 002: What’s Your THIRA). “Emergencies are inevitable . . . earthquakes, fires, floods, they happen every day,” she said. People focus on easy actions like seatbelts and home insurance to protect themselves, but Echeverria advises that “if you want to keep on keepin’ on, then you’ve got to do the hard…



Amber Walbeck

A non-prepper curiously flirting with disasters. Host of Plan My Disaster Podcast - A Non-Prepper’s Guide. #planmydisaster #planmydisasterpodcast