One of the big debates among people who are prepared is what to do, if anything, to help out folks that weren’t prepared when a SHTF event occurs. Our Christian values tell us to help those in need by offering a helping hand when we’re able, but the logic of the situation tells us that if we give everything away our own family and friends may suffer. While perusing various forums and discussing the issue of handouts with other prepper folks, I’ve seen attitudes that range from “They had the opportunity to prepare and chose not to, so they’re on their own” to “We’ve stored a lot of extra and plan on helping out those we can”, with the former being the most prevalent.
While a “they’re on their own” attitude may sound good right now, the question becomes how well will it stand up the first time you encounter a young couple with small children and no food or water and your family is staring at you.
Settle On An Approach
This issue has been a lively topic of discussion among our group for quite a while, and we decided that we needed to settle on an approach and be prepared to deliver on it. Like any other aspect of survival, if you wait until an actual event occurs to figure out how you’re going to respond, you’ll probably fail to handle it appropriately.
Factors Influencing Our Approach
Our approach involves a couple of factors:
- Circumstances – If there are hundreds of people or large groups moving through the area (which is unlikely but possible), we’ll pull our horns in, adopt a defensive posture, and avoid contact as much as possible. For the circumstance where we can’t completely avoid contact, we have several hundred printed copies of a basic survival guide we can hand out (more on that later), along with several hundred inexpensive disposable lighters, gallon ziploc freezer bags, and water purification tablets.
- Target Audience – We decided our initial focus would be on helping families with babies and small children, so we’ve created a care kit targeted at them. We also have some care kits designed for individuals, but we’ll work on stocking those as time and resources permit.
- Attitude – We’re a lot more likely to help out someone who politely asks for help for their children than we are those who approach us and “demand” that we owe them something.
- Resources – We’ve started stocking the family care kits and have a bunch of those, and we’ll start working on individual ones as resources permit. None of us are rich, but we’ll be stocking up on inexpensive kit components as we come across them and can afford them.
Teaching Them to Fish
The core of our efforts is a two-sided, one-page sheet we created that provides a wealth of information that people can use to help them survive in our area. It contains the following information:
- Foraging – Pictures of the eight most common edible plants in our area, along with basic instructions on how to harvest and prepare them.
- Other Food Sources – Catching fish and frogs using a simple spear (since there are lots of rivers and lakes in our area), eating bugs and grubs, et cetera.
- Shelter – Instructions on how to create a basic debris shelter.
- Water – Instructions on how to purify water using a clear plastic container and solar disinfecting (SODIS).
- Fire – Starting a fire with a hand drill or bow drill, collecting tinder, et cetera.
- Medical – Basic first aid, along with pictures and use instructions for common medicinal plants in our area.
- Hygiene – Basic hygiene instructions.
These instructions assume the person reading them has nothing but the clothes on their back, and they are written at a very basic level. We’ve printed off several hundred copies of this sheet and have them stored in waterproof boxes.
As I mentioned previously, we have created several different types of “care kits”. These are made from components that we’ve sourced at our local dollar stores, yard sales, closeouts, eBay, Aliexpress, and other places. Most of these kits can be assembled for just a few dollars each, depending on what you chose to include, your shopping skills, and level of hoarding.
Collective Family Kit
The first is a collective family kit. We plan on handing out one of these per family with small children:
- One quart paint can with lid – This is for holding things as well as for cooking and boiling water. One of our members picked up several cases of these at a closeout for a few pennies each. We poked two holes near the top and made a simple handle out of old clothes hanger wire so it can be hung over a fire. Be aware that some cans have linings that may burn or melt off when heated, so make sure you’re using an appropriate can.
- Survival instruction sheet (discussed above).
- Cigarette lighter – We bought a bunch of 50-packs of these back when they still sold them at Costco. You can still find them on places like Amazon or eBay for around 25 cents apiece.
- Card magnifier – For starting fires when the sun is out. You can find them on eBay for around 15 cents apiece.
- 10 x cotton discs soaked in wax (fire tinder).
- Fishing kit – This includes five hooks, five lead weights, and 20’ of fishing line wrapped around a small piece of foam.
- 10 water purification tablets – One tablet treats two quarts of water.
- 50’ of nylon string.
- Disposable utility knife – Our local dollar store had them for 25 cents apiece. You can also find inexpensive knives on sale at places like Walmart, eBay, or your local dollar store.
- Wire saw – You can find them online for around 50 cents apiece.
- Duct tape – 20’ or so in a small flat pack (wrapped around a used plastic gift card). Some metal wire.
- Medical kit – Some bandages, Ibuprofen, antibiotic ointment, and gauze pads.
- 55 gallon drum liner.
- Plastic cup with a mark at the 1 cup level.
- 1 gallon ziploc bag for water and a plastic grocery bag to carry it in. Depending on circumstances we may pre-fill the bag for them, since we have plenty of access to clean water.
On the outside we attached one of those metal survival cards that can be used to pry open the paint can or open any canned goods they come across (we found a bunch at a local store for 50 cents apiece). We have around 25 of these common family kits assembled so far.
Family Member Kits
The next kit is for individual family members. We’ll provide one of these for each person inside another ziploc bag. It contains:
- Disposable plastic poncho– Check out your local discount stores for these.
- Mylar survival blanket.
- 2 x compressed towels.
- Toilet paper in a ziploc baggie.
- Small bar of soap.
- 2 cups rice & a chicken bouillon cube in a mylar bag along with an O2 absorber inside; preparation instructions are taped on the outside.
- 2 pieces of hardtack in a mylar bag.
- 5 x vitamin pills in small mylar bag.
- Another plastic grocery bag.
- Instruction sheet.
We have about 100 of these kits made up so far, and we’ll make up more as resources (and shopping finds) allow.
The final kit is for a baby. It contains:
- Mylar survival blanket.
- 2 x compressed towels.
- Small bar of soap.
- Powdered baby formula in mylar bag with O2 absorber.
- 3 x cloth diapers with safety pins.
- Small fleece blanket – We made these by cutting up inexpensive blankets we got on sale at the dollar store around Christmas, plus a bolt of fleece we found in the bargain bin at our local sewing store.
Toddler and Non-Family Individual Kits in the Works
We have about 30 toddler kits put together so far. We haven’t finalized the contents for a non-family individual kit, but it’ll probably be similar to the family member kit with the addition of a copy of the survival information sheet, a utility knife, a clean soup can (for heating water), a lighter, string, and some water purification tablets.
You can obviously adapt these kits any way you want. We’ve already gone through several iterations based on what we found on sale. Depending on your inclination and beliefs, one other item you may also want to consider handing out are Bibles. We have several boxes we bought during a closeout sale at a bookstore that we plan on making available to anyone that wants one. Even if the recipient isn’t very religious, many people find strength and solace in the words.
We have also standardized a protocol for handing these care kits out. To begin with, we won’t hand them out anywhere within sight of our homes. Our group is planning to set up a road block checkpoint around a bend on the small road that leads to our neighborhood, so we’ll keep them there. That’s to prevent someone from associating a specific house with our charity, which should minimize the chances of them coming back and knocking on our doors.
We also plan on documenting the names of everyone we give a care kit to, as well as take their picture (assuming our digital camera still works), and tell them that they won’t be given another kit if they return. Once we’ve given them the kits, we’ll direct them to a wilderness area with a lake that’s a few miles away; the foraging instructions on the survival information sheet specifically address resources in that area.
We know these kits won’t let everyone we give them to necessarily live happily ever after, but we figure it’s a reasonable balance between doing nothing and putting ourselves at risk by giving everything away. As our preparations grow and we prosper, we’ll regularly re-visit the kits and make improvements and additions. The critical point is that you should make a decision now on what your approach will be to helping out others when the crisis hits and make sure you and your group is prepared to implement that approach. Finally, and probably most importantly, make sure you, your family, and your group can look at yourselves in the mirror every morning once you’ve implemented it.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 75 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 75 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.