Macro versus micro events: How to prepare

dangerous wildfire

If you think about what a “normal” day is to you, it’s likely something like this: Alarm goes off. Make coffee and breakfast. Get dressed. Get your kids out the door and to school. Go to work. Come home and eat dinner. Get ready for bed. 

Normal has some variances, like going out to dinner, taking your child to sports practice, running by the grocery store, etc. These variances make every normal day different but still predictable.

An “event” is something that disrupts this normal day. We encounter events that are both micro and macro in scale.

Types of events


Macro events are going to be something large-scale, significant, uncommon, or long-term when compared to the norm. When you think of macro events, think of something big in terms of severity. Examples could be:

  • Auto accident
  • Deadly force situation
  • Terrorist attack
  • Natural disaster


Micro events are going to be the small, petty, trivial, or common things that pop up during the course of a normal day or at least every so often. The severity and complexity of these are very low. Examples could be:

  • Minor cut on a finger
  • Pen running out of ink
  • Navigating in the dark
  • Opening packages

Preparing for events

When talking about preparedness related to the two definitions above, your approach varies quite a bit. Keep in mind, we don’t talk about these subjects to live in a state of paranoia and fear. We talk about them in order to prepare in a way that allows us to walk in confidence.

Some folks use a risk matrix to work through all kinds of risks and to help them better plan risk mitigation. It can be used for anything from private business to personal preparedness planning. These matrixes are a way for people to determine the frequency and severity of various types of risks. Some are pretty basic (see graphic below), while others may be very intricate and more complex.

Risk matrix

Every one of us has to have a way to evaluate what we need to be prepared for. In order for them to have value, our preparations should be based on something more than what new gear looks cool or what the newest fad is. I’m guilty in both of these areas.

first aid

When evaluating how to plan and prepare for micro events, we have more margin for error because the implications are small to non-existent. The impact of these events is low in terms of severity. In other words, if you are not adequately prepared to deal with the small issues that pop up on a daily basis, you will be fine. A worst-case scenario would be you go the whole day with a headache because you didn’t carry pain medication. 

Or, maybe your phone dies and you have no way to communicate, check social media, or order a pizza. Oh, the humanity!

These types of things are inconveniences and can be annoying. For some folks, something small like this will dictate their mood and attitude for the entire day. It doesn’t take too many days of having a dead phone for someone to start carrying a charger. Fortunately, you can handle these types of things fairly easily with your Tier 1 or Tier 2 EDC. 

The good thing is people tend to develop some form of EDC naturally over time based on these daily occurrences. You may be someone who has never heard of the term everyday carry or EDC, but I guarantee you are “participating”  in everyday carry in one way or another. Your EDC may not be very effective or efficient, but odds are there are certain things you are carrying on a daily basis.

When I look at putting some thought into planning for micro events, I’m typically looking at low severity incidents. My most basic EDC items are carried to deal with the high frequency, low severity issues I run into. It may be cutting open boxes, writing notes, or using a flashlight for one reason or another. These are all types of things I do pretty much every single day. I want to be able to handle them as efficiently and effectively as possible; therefore, I am intentional about carrying the right gear to do so.

If it is something that is low frequency and low severity I’m probably not going to put much effort into preparing or planning for it on the front end. If I do, it is way down on my priority list. For something that pops up once a year and it’s no big deal, I don’t see any reason to waste time or resources planning for it. That energy and effort can be better used elsewhere.


When it comes to macro events, the consequences they carry can be profound. The severity of the risk is great if not planned for accordingly. It can get tricky when planning on how to mitigate these types of things. It is very subjective and is based on lots of variables that may influence your preparations. Things like:

  • Weather considerations (hurricane area vs. tornado area)
  • Where you live geographically within a city (high crime vs. low crime)
  • Where you are traveling to
  • Medical considerations (deathly allergic to bee stings) 

If you are deathly allergic to bee stings you probably carry something like an EpiPen. If you get stung and you do not have one, the implications can be severe. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have one handy to treat an anaphylactic reaction.

High-risk events require training in addition to planning. If you carry a firearm for self-defense, it’s not enough to get your license to carry, buy a handgun, and start carrying it. You need to seek out qualified training and learn how to use that weapon effectively.

Ideally, you will be able to walk away with enough knowledge to plan your own practice sessions and diagnose the mistakes you are making. If you aren’t able to do it on your own, seek out more training. The same thing goes for medical considerations. Medical training is one of those areas you can’t afford to skimp on. Do yourself a favor and get proper training.

Keep in mind, there is no way to prepare for every high-risk scenario. You will drive yourself crazy and you can let it rob your joy. Do your best to prepare for the types of things that have a higher potential to happen. Some things can be handled by avoiding the risk altogether. If there is a high risk of something bad happening by traveling to a certain foreign country…don’t go there. Some things can’t be avoided…plan accordingly.

In summary, you should plan for little stuff to make your days better overall and plan/train for the big stuff to so you can walk in confidence knowing things are in order to the best of your ability.

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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