Community Risk Mitigation, by T.P.

I hate it when I see statements on prepping site that make assumptions of our fellow citizens that are overly broad and frequently demeaning. You know the things I’m talking about. “They assume the government will save them.” “Sheeple.” “They refuse to prepare because of their narrow mindedness.” There is certainly a small subset of people who fit that mold. Most however are of the “ignorance is bliss” variety. They simply haven’t woken up to the risk.

Prepping is simply a form of risk mitigation. It’s insurance. When my family woke up to the risk, we didn’t suddenly realize the world was going to end. We realized that the consequences of not preparing were beyond what we were willing to bear. I remember distinctly thinking about a grad-school course on finance where we discussed futures. A future buys a commodity now for set price to be delivered later. In other words the price may go up and it may go down, but you know exactly what you have is at the price you can afford. Isn’t that exactly what prepping is – risk mitigation. We’re buying supplies and learning skills now not because we’re sure we’ll need them but because living without them isn’t something we want to do should disaster strike.

Most people in the US do have blinders on, but these blinders are not usually of the willful variety. They simply do not understand the risk. Look at recent events. When the terrorist attacks in San Bernadino occurred, firearm sales nationwide spiked. This happened because many people woke up to the risk of not owning firearms and decided they couldn’t handle the potential consequences of not
owning firearms.

Similarly, the prepping industry is a growth industry over the last 15 years. Why is that? September 11th, Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. Having seen the consequences of others living without preparing, many people decided that they didn’t want to be in that circumstance. Think about the number of blogs, food storage companies, and other businesses which support prepping that have started in the last five years.  One source estimated that in 2013 there were an estimate 3.7 million preppers in the US. Add in those who may not identify as preppers but who certainly live some of the principles–for example, the 7 million Mormons in the US–and we’re starting to talk about some serious numbers. We’re part of a growth population and part of a growth industry but we tend to view ourselves as backroom stepchildren. We’re not that at all and need to step out of our caves and help others to understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

We as preppers need to be open minded about the blindness of our neighbors. It’s not because they’re stupid, it’s really because they are unaware of the risk. It’s obvious that we would all be better off if everyone put aside supplies for three weeks of food and water and a 72-kit / bug out bag. We should be the gentle nudge our neighbors need to take these small steps. I’m not saying we should throw open our doors and invite everyone in to inspect our homes. I’m just saying that we should take opportunities to spread the word that small preparations can make a big difference.

How can we spread the word? Here are some things I’ve done or seen done:

  • Be up front about some things when asked. When my neighbor noticed that I was making trips to the range with what was obviously a rifle bag he asked why I bought a gun. The answer: “I realized that I wasn’t prepared to be the protector in my home should I need to be.” No lecture on the second amendment, no discussion on the merits of 9mm versus .45 ACP – just pointing out that I wanted to do the right thing.
  • Next time you see a neighbor doing a project. Offer to help. By lending that tool or offering your generator for use in the backyard, you invite conversation about why you have those things. The answer: “They’re really handy… plus if I ever need power in an outage, I’m covered. We do live in tornado country after all.”
  • Reach out to your community through the organizations you serve. I am a Boy Scout leader. We are holding a Preparedness Fair for the community which will focus on 72-hour Kits. We’ll probably only get the boys neighbors and the people in the church who sponsors our troop to come. That will be 100 more people, boys included, who know why they should have these kits than before. That’s a win.
  • Along the lines of the above – volunteer in your community. There are many opportunities to help people and help them prepare at the same time. Be a Boy Scout leader or a youth leader in your church. Work in the community storehouse. You shouldn’t be surprised that the topic of preparation for economic events will come up while helping those who are suffering from economic events.
  • If there is ever a small crisis in your community. Selectively help close neighbors with food, water or supplies. Point out that you only want to help and the only thing you ask in return is that they be prepared for the next similar crisis. This is ideal because it simultaneously shows the value in being prepared while calling your friend to action.

Notice that the only case above which addressed a large audience was done through an organization. All others are personal encounters with those you know and who you think you can trust. You can be selective and sufficiently secretive to keep your operational security while at the same time helping people understand that risk mitigation is great thing.

The other benefit here is creating community. A prepper community is a group of like-minded people who plan to work together in preparing for and dealing with a crisis. Let’s be honest. How many of you have this sort of arrangement? I don’t. I know 3 or 4

Creating circles of community is a great idea for all preppers. If you think about it, we’re creating this just by living in a community. Recognizing that we are creating circles of prepping communities and helping the process along is a good thing. Think about some of these circles:

  • Your prepper group, if you have one, is the closest set of like-minded people you’re likely to meet and is at the center of your circles.
  • Your close friends and neighbors know some of what you prepare for. Share a little more with them and encourage them to be minimally prepared.
  • Your work friends probably notice that you always have water and granola bars on hand and can be counted on to know first aid. Several of my work associates have asked questions. A couple of them now come regularly with me to the range.
  • Members of your Church or volunteer organization already share the same values as you. They are an easy group to share basic principles of prepping with. This group is the most likely to understand why you prep and to think about why they should prepare as well.
  • Your fellow volunteers. That could be the coach of your kids soccer team, the dad on the scout camp out, the guy working to stock shelves at the local homeless shelter, the guy you meet at the range, or the security officer or EMT at your kids school.

These are concentric circles of associates. Some may belong to more than one group. Perhaps none of them will go into full-blown prepper mode. Let’s face it, that’s probably a good thing. We all have to live our lives now as well as prepare for and uncertain future.

If more of the people in your circles understand preparedness, they will wake up to the risk and prepare more for themselves. As they prepare, your security increases and you’ll be better prepared locally for any potential crisis.

It’s no accident that people who have lived through significant crises point out that the most important preparation is having a community. All the supplies and all the skills in the world are useless if you don’t have someone to watch your back. Even worse, the more people around you who are unprepared, the worse your situation will be.

You really can’t do it all by yourself. It’s unlikely you have six neighbors with two years of food storage, a bug out vehicle and a small armory. However, if you have six more neighbors with a bug out bag and three weeks of food and water, you’ll all be better off. The more people who understand the risk and make some preparations, the better off we all will be. You can improve the circumstance of those around you… all while improving your own.

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