In the time that I’ve been prepping, I’ve talked to a lot of friends and family about the need for them to prep too. I’ve gotten varying answers in this conversation, but the one answer I hear more than anything is, “I’ll just come to your house if something happens.” It’s always said with a laugh, as though it’s such a hilarious, original joke, and I’ve read many folks who advocate answering that with a resounding “No, you won’t.”
On one hand, this sounds greedy and rude–or at least, you’re told that it does. How can the person who claims to want to build local communities and work together with neighbors not be willing to share in hard times, when your little nephews are starving or the family next door doesn’t have any more water and no hope of getting any? Some may say that there’s a moral and ethical obligation to help others regardless of situation. Others I’ve talked to say that they’ll give the people at the door two days’ rations and tell them that’s it. Still others say they’ll help children but no one else.
The problem is that they’re still thinking in terms of normal, civilized society, and the social mores that people generally abide by–and trying to apply them in a brutal, life-or-death situation where there are no rules and no limits.
In order to understand the real situation you’d be faced with, you need to read Selco’s work, in which he describes in great detail the mindset changes that occur in a societal breakdown. Think about what happens when an area is faced with a major storm, or prolonged power outages. People swarm the stores, scrambling for supplies before they’re gone. Looting and theft, even assaults and worse occur as a matter of course.
Let’s take a look at some of the potential situations. Let’s assume you have a family of four people plus one dog. You’ve saved a few hundred dollars in silver, and you’ve got three months of food and water saved up.
“We Must Help Others”
If you help anyone who asks you in a SHTF situation, that three months of food will last days–if you’re lucky. Word will get out that you have food, and everyone in your neighborhood will be standing at your door. Now all the food’s gone–what do you do for your own family?
People who are starving–even normally decent and good people–will do whatever it takes to feed themselves and their families. What do you think they’ll do if you tell them your food is gone? Do you think they’ll just say, “oh, okay,” and wander off? If you want to stay alive, helping everyone around you is not a good idea.
“I’ll Give Them Two Days’ Rations”
While this sounds like a compassionate course of action that somewhat protects your family’s food supply, this may be even stupider than just opening up your stores and helping everyone. Think of the story of the golden goose. What do you think will happen if you tell someone, “Okay here’s two days of food. Now go away”? You’ve just told them that you have more food, but you’re not going to give it to them. How do you think that story ends? It ends with you dead and them in charge of your house, in all probability. Not to mention, just as in the previous scenario, word will spread that you have food. Do you also have enough ammo to fight off the whole neighborhood, who will need to eat again in two days? By the way…when will you sleep?
“I’ll Only Help Children”
This may be one of the biggest mistakes. Play it out in your head: A parent comes to the door holding a toddler and says, “Please just give me food for my child,” so you do. Do you really, honestly think the parent is going to allow themselves to starve to death in order to keep their child alive? Sure, parents would give their lives for their child in normal circumstances, but these aren’t normal circumstances. Would you let yourself starve to death for your toddler, knowing that once you die, your toddler is now alone? Of course not. You can’t protect your child if you’re dead. This means that parents will look for food for themselves and their children–and your compassionate gift “for the children” will still end up in the exact same ending as the previous two situations.
Not Advertising Your Prep at All
That’s the best course of action. Don’t advertise. You might be asking, “Well how am I supposed to tell people they should be prepping and then pretending I don’t?” That part’s actually fairly simple. Tell people you’ve got the standard 72-hour kit. At some level, if you’re trying to get people to prepare themselves and their family, they’re going to assume that you have something saved up. Better to address that up front.
I asked JC Dodge, a survivalist and fellow AP author, what people should do in that situation. He pointed out that sometimes we end up giving up a bit of security in order to help a novice prepper get started, such as friends or family. You may find that true in your own case as well. You may choose to just talk about prepping in forums or other places where you can (at least somewhat) hide your identity and location from others.
You could always go the other direction, and simply not talk about anything you do to prep. You could choose to not even bother with trying to get people on board. You could shrug when talk of it comes up, and just hope out loud that nothing happens like the other sheep do.
Whatever you do, don’t be that guy, the one who is posting pics of his preps, bragging on social media about his trailer full of supplies and food. Don’t be the one who smugly announces that folks should “go ahead and try to take my stuff.”
What if You’ve Already Blabbed?
You might be reading this and thinking, “Well, I’ve already posted pics of my preps on social media. I’ve already told all my friends and family. I’ve already gone to prepper conferences, etc.” Okay, that’s fine. What’s done is done. You can’t fix what you have already said or done. What you CAN do, however, is include your prepping capability and any discussion on it in a future analysis of your critical information for the purposes of OPSEC, and apply countermeasures as appropriate.
You can also go to family and friends, if necessary, and make it clear that they need to make a choice; either they prep now, or they scrap and fight for what they need later, but they aren’t coming to your home for it. How much you offer to help (such as offering to help with storage space, etc.) is up to you.
At the end of the day, what you choose to do in regards to your preps is your business. But if you want to keep yourself, your family, and your stash of food and supplies safe from those who don’t feel the need to prepare themselves now thinking they can leech off of you later, you may want to think twice about being so open about what you have.