How to Encourage People to Prepare for Disaster

Strength in Numbers: Building a Preparedness Community by Survival Life at

In my experience, one of the hardest things about being a prepper is justifying my lifestyle to others.

Let's face it… we in the survival community are considered strange by some outsiders. We're “paranoid” at best and “loony” at worst.

And yet when SHTF, we know we'll be the first ones everyone else calls for help…

My friends and Backdoor Survival have some tips on how to handle that outside criticism and maybe even bring some of the skeptics into the fold.

Read on to learn more, and be sure to check out Backdoor Survival for more awesome preparedness tips.

Strength in Numbers: Building a Preparedness Community

The challenges of living a self-sufficient, prepper lifestyle can be overwhelming when attempting to do it all yourself.  If you are lucky, you have a spouse or partner on board to share both the work and the joys of self-reliance.

On the other hand, I know from the many comments and emails that I receive that a good percentage of you are on your own.

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Some carry the torch alone due to circumstance but others soldier along without assistance because family and friends scoff and consider them loony tunes.  Believe me, I feel your pain.

My goal this year is to bring together some of the brightest minds in the preparedness world to help us figure out how to bring a sense of community into our lives.  You have already heard from Richard Broome in his “Call to Action“, and my own plan for community survival is in the works.

Today, though, I want to share some wisdom from Jim Cobb, long-term survivalist and prolific author of some the best prepper books out there.  I recently reached out to Jim and requested permission to reprint the Appendix from his book, Countdown to Preparedness.  I chose this piece because in those few pages, Jim laid down some rules for “Aunt Jane” and “Uncle Bob” who are assuming that they will show up at your door so that you can take care of them following a disaster.

He takes a novel approach and I think it is a good one.

Bringing Friends and Extended Family into the Fold

By now, you have friends and family who are aware of your prepping tendencies. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’ve heard at least some variation of, “If something does happen, I’m coming to your place.” As you continue on your path of disaster readiness, you’ll hear that quite a bit.

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I’m a big proponent of community survival. By that, I mean I believe that the odds of survival are greatly enhanced when you have a group of people working at it, rather than just going it alone. So I’m not necessarily opposed to having certain people show up after a disaster hits. . . As long as they know what they’re getting into.

A fellow prepper, we’ll call him “Nick,” drafted a letter that he’s given to select family and friends. These are people who are likely to show up, and their presence would be welcome for a variety of reasons. Here’s my own variation on that letter.

Dear Family Member,

As many of you already know, I am actively preparing for potential disasters or crises that may be coming. While I am concentrating my efforts on more mundane situations, such as power outages or weather-related emergencies, I do not discount the possibility of a more long-term calamity occurring at some point down the road.

Should such an emergency come to pass, while I’d love to take you all in, provide for your needs, and keep you safe, I cannot and will not do that if it means placing my immediate family at greater risk. With that in mind, I am extending to you this offer.

If you are willing to do at least some of the work involved with regard to prepping, specifically either purchasing supplies or providing the funds for me to do so on your behalf, I can properly package and store them for long-term use. Doing so will ensure we all have enough food, water, and supplies to make it through whatever life decides to throw our way.

I will also do all I can to help you properly plan for emergencies and prepare your own household for disasters.

Here is just a sample list of the types of supplies we will need, should a long-term event take place, and we all end up under one roof.

Food Medical/First Aid Security/Defense

  • Beans
  • Prescription medications
  • Firearms
  • Rice
  • Bandages
  • Ammunition
  • Baking supplies
  • Various OTC medications
  • Cleaning kits and supplies
  • Canned meats
  • Gauze
  • Two-way radios
  • Canned vegetables
  • Ace bandages
  • Gun safes/locks
  • Honey
  • Antibiotic ointments
  • Non-firearm weapons
  • Canned fruits
  • Burn creams
  • Peanut butter
  • Medical equipment
  • Coffee/tea
  • Canned soups

Storage items Clothing (for each person) Miscellaneous gear

  • Plastic bags
  • Outerwear
  • Bleach
  • Plastic buckets
  • Several pairs of pants
  • Oil lamps, wicks, fuel
  • Canning jars
  • Several pairs of underwear
  • Charcoal
  • Canning lids/rings
  • Several shirts
  • Toilet paper
  • Totes
  • Several pairs of socks
  • Aluminum foil
  • Barrels
  • One or two pair of boots
  • Matches/lighters
  • Water filtration equipment

Again, that is just a small sampling of the supplies and equipment we’d need to provide for all of our needs. Adding just one extra mouth to feed, without having accounted for it ahead of time, substantially decreases the available food for all.

Here is what I propose. If you plan on showing up here after a major disaster, make it easier on all involved by either regularly contributing items such as outlined above or by providing funds every week or month for us to purchase supplies for you.

The items purchased are and will always be yours, to do with what you feel necessary. For example, let’s say a year from now your employer downsizes the staff, and you find yourself unemployed. The food purchased on your behalf can and will be made available to you as needed.

Consider prepping in this fashion like insurance against an uncertain future.

I would encourage you to give this some serious thought. Then, we can discuss the finer details. I’m sure we can work something out.

The idea here is to help these folks be accountable and get them involved. Explain to them that you’re willing to store the items and maintain them as needed, but they need to provide them to you.

In some situations, you may find a few of these folks are willing to just give you some money here and there for you to purchase items on their behalf.

Another approach is to explain to them that they can’t just show up empty-handed. You might give them a list similar to the above and explain that should they need to come to your place for safety, they should bring as many of those items as they can carry.

The idea here is to allow these friends and family members a way to be accountable for themselves, albeit with your assistance. This also serves to give you a clear conscience. You’ve taken the time to lay out exactly what they need to do in order to provide for their own needs should a crisis come to pass. The ball is then in their court, so to speak. If they decline the offer, so be it. It becomes their problem, not yours.

The Final Word

At the beginning of this article, I said that I feel your pain.  It is true that I have a husband on board with my prepping activities, but other than that, no other family members prep.  I have three local friends that are preppers and a few others that want to learn. Local “experts” who will go unnamed, want nothing to do with me.

Everyone else has told me that they will show up at my doorstep with the big one hits. Alas, they are in for a big surprise.

As we continue to explore community survival, I encourage you to share your own thoughts so that together we can learn from each other and move one step closer to earning the respect we deserve for having the foresight to prepare.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Mar 24, 2015 , and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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How to Encourage People to Prepare for Disaster

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