Preparedness is on the periphery of public health. Many facets of local and federal public heath deal with disaster preparedness but almost never for preparations beyond 72 hrs. I have worked in public safety and healthcare administration in various capacities for over 20 years and the subject is almost taboo. However, it is the growing “pink elephant” in the corner of the room.
Anyone who works or deals with disaster preparation in an official capacity knows that official disaster assistance is woefully inadequate and that there are many scenarios that could trigger a “collapse, or severe problem, extending beyond 72 hours. Anyone involved in official circles knows why the subject is taboo: the government (but really politicians) cannot be seen as incapable of handling a nationwide emergency. There is also a desire to prevent panic over various societal pressure points. Some officials are actually naïve enough to believe it cannot, or won’t, happen (yes, normalcy bias can affect all levels), much like the public, whom is generally ignorant to this issue as well.
So where did this idea of preparedness come from? Some who have lived in rural or frontier areas have always done some level of it at home. Ex-military and public safety personnel have a natural affinity for it. Those who engage in wilderness survival or outdoor activities have some of the skills necessary for it. It has evolved for many out of observations that our society is degenerating and that a collapse may be inevitable. So as a result, over the years, like minded preppers have written books, developed blogs, became consultants, some conventions have sprung up, and a small niche market has evolved for various suppliers. This is a very comprehensive and detailed body of works, if one knows where to access it.
Unfortunately, if one looks to truly thrive, and not just survive, in the coming collapse, we must look beyond ourselves, and even beyond our small groups of like-minded individuals, and get others to buy into the concept of preparedness. There are two worthwhile purposes to this mind set: to tap into resources that are present in members of the public who are otherwise ignorant of this need and, secondly, to decrease the numbers in the golden hoard (at least in your local area) by expanding the number of prepared people.
What I am suggesting is a form of social marketing. Instead of selling a product, we are selling a concept or idea, such as stopping tobacco use, or treating high blood pressure. There have also been moderately successful public health campaigns for traditional disaster preparedness. This is how we must view getting more of the public aware of the need for preparedness. Unfortunately, there will never be a public health campaign for this type of long term preparedness.
This is an activity that needs to begin now, before the proverbial “11th hr”. It is as essential as the purchase of preparedness items and weapons training. It is a distant cousin of military PSYOPS use of propaganda, but the desired result is the same: get more people informed and to be your ally.
I am going to provide a method for a seasoned prepper to plant the seed for as many potential groups as possible. What you need is a structured plan to disseminate the need and concept of preparedness to your own group (even if already established), and then be able to engage others, outside your group, in learning about preparedness.
[First a word of caution: I am not suggesting giving away your personal preparedness secrets or plans. In fact, I am not even going to teach specific preparedness techniques in this methodology. This is solely for “getting buy- in” so that others can begin their preparedness journey headed in the right direction, and know where to get further information and resources If you are creating your initial group, the presentation format is for use after you have some trustworthy people in which to consider group formation.]
Any marketing plan must begin with planning. This is a very extensive process but we can simplify it for our purposes here. We must discover a need and trigger for our message, and we must define our competition.
We have to define the need for preparedness. This is simple: the public is unprepared for an emergency lasting more than 72 hours. Then we must find a scenario that will be an example for the need for preparedness. This is commonly referred to as the trigger. This is the idea that illustrates the need and causes the masses to gain buy-in into your message.
Although there are many valid scenarios for engaging in preparedness, some may be too exotic, scare off others, or seem too insurmountable for many from the public at large. EMP, pandemic flu, and meteor strikes come to mind. Some such as natural disasters may seem too common and easily handled by the government-despite the evidence from aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Economic collapse is probably one the most tangible scenarios to use as a reason or be a trigger. The evidence of economic collapse is present to many in their own everyday lives, and evident in the media. Some shock factor in the scenario may be needed to get their attention.
In the case of social marketing we do not have a competitor selling a rival product. We do have competition in the form of public resistance pushing against our preparedness message. This is commonly referred to as the Normalcy Bias. The pervasive, misinformed idea that bad things will never happen, or affect our region or ourselves.
The marketing process follows a set of simple steps which need to be identified and defined specifically for our underground marketing campaign:
Need– the public is unprepared for an emergency lasting more than 72 hours
Purpose– to get local community members to understand the need for better preparedness (remember, you are not teaching prepping in depth, but planting the seed for further learning)
Message– We live in a fragile society whose infrastructure and people are threatened by potential emergencies from which our recovery may be severely limited
Target Market– those people in your community with contact and the ability to influence others opinions- the Influentials (we will discuss them later)
Presentation– your power points, AV aides, videos, etc
Communication Channels– the educational sessions that you host
People– your core group of instructors/presenters (“inner circle”)
Value and Satisfaction– the audience gains an understanding and sees the worth in the information you provide
Buy–In– the influentials “get it” and begin promoting the concept of preparedness to others
Behavioral Response– your local community members begin learning and initiating preparedness activities
People and Target Markets
If you are alone in preparedness then you will need to target an “inner circle” as your first target market. You will want to find a group of folks of a similar mind-set, or at least some interest in preparedness. Ideally, they would have a variety of areas of expertise. This is the group that will help you to develop your presentation and help do your presentation to succeeding groups. These will be the people that will be your core group of instructors/presenters.
These subject matter experts would include a farmer/gardener; someone from law enforcement or a military background; an RN or paramedic; a scout/ outdoorsman; and a tradesman (plumber, electrician or mechanic). This varied group would be ideal because they have knowledge directly related to preparedness topics, and could in all likelihood become your group of preppers, if you do not already have a group.
If you have an existing group engaging in preparedness then much of this will be done. This group of presenters could include members of a few different preparedness groups. Remember that not everyone is a natural teacher of comfortable speaking to groups of people, but most knowledgeable folks are willing to provide content.
Let’s discuss the next target market in a little more detail. This will be made up of the group that we called the influentials. These are the folks who are well- connected and whose opinion people trust. It allows for the greatest spread of ideas. They are likely people you already know but have not really thought of in this manner. They would include pastors or religious leaders; Boy Scout leaders; PTA Presidents; American Legion members; and/or members of Chamber of Commerce. They would then look at their friends, family and contacts in the public at large as their target markets in order to spread these ideas.
[A word of caution when involving government officials or law enforcement, you must be sure of exactly who you are including, and feel them out for awhile before you start inquiring about their interests. (As with anyone you would share this knowledge with.) Many from government will look skeptically on the concept of preparedness and might see you as a threat. Alternatively, there are many in law enforcement /government service that will readily deflect the government “party line” and may already be prepping themselves.]
Once you have an interested group of folks who have some interest in the concept of preparedness, or need convincing, you will need a follow up presentation that will be: concise; focus briefly on the main aspects of prepping; and most of all, convince the group of the need for preparedness. You will want to leave them with a few practical prepping ideas that they can do immediately after your presentation. In public safety circles this level of knowledge is known as “awareness level” knowledge.
You will want to keep the presentation to about 2 hours with a 15 min break in between. Most adults do not stay awake nor stay interested beyond this point for a talk or lecture. There will also be time needed at the end for questions. A power point show is likely the easiest vehicle for the physical presentation. Photos and video clips are also good within the show for reinforcement. A seasoned teacher could assist you with creating a catchy slide show that would keep everyone’s attention and still get the point across.
You will need to be knowledgeable enough in preparedness topics to carry the presentation for about 3 hrs maximum. Your subject matter experts will be used for areas you are personally not that knowledgeable with, or to add further professionalism for more buy-in.
Some props could also assist you in making the point. An actual G.O.O.D. bag or medical bag; a water purifier; firearm examples; and/or a food dehydrator would allow some hands-on time and avoid death by PowerPoint.
The following is an example outline with major bullet points that could be used for the slide show:
Why do we need to engage in Preparedness?
- the public is unprepared for an emergency lasting more than 72 hours
- We live in a fragile society whose infrastructure and people are threatened by potential emergencies from which our recovery may be severely limited
- The government will not be able to help most people- cite examples here such as Katrina
- Any Federal response is based upon resources from the States and Local agencies
What are the risks that we potentially face?
- Natural disasters- hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, etc
- Economic collapse-hyperinflation of the dollar; high gas prices (emphasize impact on prices for all goods that are shipped); food and commodity shortages; civil unrest; looting
- Terrorism-explosives; dirty bomb; martial law; rationing
- Pandemic Flu- lack of medical services; inability to travel
- Internet/Gas pipelines/Power grid- how our fragile infrastructure is tied to these 3 entities & how a disruption in 1 would cause all 3 to collapse
The Big Risk we all face?……… Economic collapse
- Hyperinflation: the government prints money without end & prices on everything sky rocket; spending ceases and economy grinds to a halt- a la Germany after WWI
- Deflation: the dollar gains in value & commodities drop in value – Great Depression
- Unemployment numbers- they are artificially low & do not represent the underemployed & those who have stopped looking
- Banks are not lending- we have no growth in business or jobs
- Related Social Issues-
- The generations that survived the Great Depression/WWII grew up in modest means, had a work ethic & could sacrifice- the generations since 1945 have lived in relative opulence & had many entitlements…….…….when our economy collapses life will not be easy or nice; when a people who have whatever they want, when they want don’t get it, they will not be so easy-going & nice- CIVIL UNREST & RIOTING
- As of 2006, 50% of the total income in the U.S. was concentrated in the upper 10% of the population; almost 25% of the total income in the U.S. was found in the upper 1%- this is the greatest disparity in U.S. history***
The Masses are wholly unprepared for any of the previous risks
Levels of Preparedness- 0-5*
- Typical apt dweller; travels for employment; eats out mostly & lives out of a suitcase; the first refugees
- Typical urban/suburban home owner; limited food; no disaster mind set or kit; likely unprotected
- A homeowner that has 48-72 hrs worth of supplies; knows local risks; has a plan for 72 hrs; assumes help from authorities
- A homeowner that has 3-6 months worth of stored food/water; a means of protection/security; some back- up power; has some basic medical & wilderness competence; knows help may not come for some time if ever
- Has 1 yr stored food/water; a means to replenish food stores continually; several levels of security; has formed a group of preppers; either lives at or has a retreat location; has renewable energy in place; a continuous water supply; has a store of precious metals
- Lives isolated, off the grid & is completely self-sufficient; unaware of many potential threats
Questions to get their minds working
Ask group where they are personally on this continuum?
Assume they know where the nearest Big Box store is – then ask where the nearest food distribution center is? How does just-in-time inventory affects us in an emergency?
Ask where they would get medicine if the pharmacies are empty?
If they own a generator, what would they do when the gas runs out at gas stations?
Looting begins by armed bandits in their neighborhood, what will they do for protection?
If they were to evacuate: When is best time? How would they do it? Where would they go?
About 80% of America is currently at Level 2 or below
The Focus of Preparedness
What exactly does “prepared” mean?
What are the priorities?
- Water stored and a means to purify it- a natural source is ideal
- Nutritious canned food stored in temperature sensitive environs
- A garden for growing vegetables; planting fruit trees
- A means for hunting & owning/access to livestock
- Gaining the ability to can, dry & preserve/store food
Get-Started Point: build a garden, start buying canned food & secure a source(s) of water- WATER ISYOUR FIRST PRIORITY
- You will need guns despite the contrary views on gun ownership- criminals will use them
- A shotgun & a rifle is a good start plus 1000 rounds of ammunition- you also need to learn how to use them
- Learn the basics of home defense- locks; perimeter; warning devices
- Own a medium to large size dog
- Decide early if you are staying or leaving your home when things turn bad
Get-Started Point: buy a shotgun & rifle then take a gun safety course
Medical Care- “Band-Aids”
- Take an EMT course for basic medical care concepts (preferably a Wilderness EMT course)- almost any community college will offer this
- Begin stockpiling emergency care supplies plus OTC & any prescription meds
- A formally trained MD/RN/paramedic will be necessary once you form a group
- Get vaccinated as needed now & get any pending dental work done
- Prevention of illness/injury will be the watchword after a collapse
Get-Started Point: Start a fitness routine & quit using tobacco
- Organize, Acquire & begin Rotating food in a pantry (O.A.R.)**
- Implement an alternative power source (solar, generator, etc) for a freezer, recharging batteries, radio, flashlights, etc
- Purchase Lithium- ion rechargeable batteries in all sizes needed
- Work out the logistics of sanitation with no power grid for your home
- Decide where you will develop your post-collapse home/retreat before investing
Get-Started Point: clean out your house & throw out/sell all non-essential items or junk in your possession
[“Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids”- *]
One More Thing……
- Start & secure a stash of silver coins to use for currency in a post-collapse world
Go or Stay? -When things start to fall apart
- This will depend greatly on where you live now: city, suburbs, or rural
Staying Put/Choosing a Retreat Location
- City/urban– you need to “Get Out of Dodge” (G.O.O.D.)
- Looting/riots, fires & lack of resources
- Evacuation needs to be done in advance at first sign of unrest
- Sanitation & disease problems
- Suburban- not optimum but feasible for retreat in certain cases
- if within 20 mi of a city, surrounded by cities and/or in a congested sub-division- G.O.O.D.
- if closer to rural areas- assess the defensibility of your home; ability to grow produce; access to water
- Rural/Farm– you are likely in second best position of the four
- How close to an Interstate are you? (refugees)
- What is your wild land fire & flood danger- no FD response post-collapse
- How much help do you need to defend & work the land
- Rural/Mountains- the best area for a retreat/home in the post-collapse world
- Montana; Eastern Idaho; Wyoming; Adirondack & Blue Ridge Mountains
- Best access to water & natural resources
- Limited population & far from potential urban area refugees
- You need a pre-determined destination, so the previous applies
- Caching or pre-staging supplies at the retreat location is advised as more than 72 hrs worth is needed, plus valuable family items may be added as this could be a permanent move as well as trip supplies
- Vehicles- a crew-cab pick- up or solid SUV (set up for off-road) is the preferred G.O.O.D. vehicle
- Fuel must be stored to allow for the trip (gas pumps do not work if the grid is down)
- You need to be prepared enough to go before the first signs of unrest/panic or the freeways will be impassible
Get-Started Point: research and stock a G.O.O.D. bag for each family member in your house (use as a hand-out to the group during presentation)
How to Form a Group
- Friends & family are the natural starting point
- Honesty, trustworthiness; belief in God; good work ethic goes without saying
- At least 3-4 members at a good fitness level that are good at firearms
- You will need a medical specialist; mechanic/tradesman; gardener; someone adept at food preserving
- General preparedness competence for all members
Resources for Further Information
SurvivalBlog.com edited by James Wesley, Rawles
*How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It by James Wesley, Rawles
The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery
**Just in Case by Kathy Harrison
Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart by Joe Nobody (www.PrepperPress.com)
Wilderness First Responder Textbook by Buck Tilton
***It Could Happen Here: America on the Brink by Bruce Judson
This ends the example presentation you can use to make the help make the case for preparedness. It is important to emphasize the need for accessing further resources. I have read many within this genre and found these to be both comprehensive and accessible for beginners. (I base my opinion on teaching adults Public Safety for many years.) You can probably start with the resources listed above, but obviously there are others of similar content. It is important to have some that are comprehensive, and some that can slowly bridge from a modern life to a preparedness mindset without being overwhelming.
Getting “buy-in” and changing a mindset takes time. It is not an overnight event and needs to be fostered and encouraged. If you begin these presentations you (and your core group) will be seen as the “experts”, so having sufficient knowledge of preparedness is essential and you will need to learn more. You will also need to practice what you have been teaching, as well and be able to give advice in the future.