The modern prepper is faced with many conundrums; how much of what they need to store, how many people they are preparing for, what kinds of events they are preparing for. There is one conundrum that was brought to the forefront by Motomom in her call in to the show yesterday: how do you handle the unprepared, specifically family members?
This is probably the hardest question I have been asked in a very long time in regards to preparedness. I can answer pretty solidly from a natural disaster standpoint: you welcome them in. A vast majority of natural disaster events are going to be relatively short lived and your basic preps should be adequate enough to support a group of people twice the size of your family for the duration of the scenario. This covers a vast multitude of events, from tornadoes to hurricanes. The one set of circumstances that is a little, no, a lot harder to judge will be the big event(s). I am talking total collapse.
The cause of the total collapse, with possibly only one exception – EMP, will be relatively unimportant. The results, generally across the board, are pretty much the same: no rule of law, lack of food in stores, rioting, fires, death on a massive scale, no municipal water flowing from the faucets. Basically events that led up to this will have different sub-scenarios, like a pandemic with the possibility of contamination from people showing up on your doorstep, to the ubiquitous “fallout” from a nuclear strike. Taking those as an aside, and considering you have prepared for most any scenario, I will not address those points in this post, instead I will focus on how you may (or may not) handle a family member and anyone that may be tagging along with them – (your brother, sister, in-laws, parents, brother, sister, and their significant or not so significant others).
Back in 2011, I posted a guest post titled “Sorry Bob Go Die Somewhere Else”. It was a profound and very honest look at this very scenario by an individual identified only by the initials D.B., and I just re-read it. He writes, and I think it encapsulates the issue very neatly:
”Maybe I am a bit paranoid; I guess that’s just part of being a prepper. But that still doesn’t alter the fact that if I’m even remotely correct that I will be the only person in my circle of friends that is remotely prepared. It stands to follow, therefore, that since my friends and family (with the exception of my in-laws) are unprepared, they will be looking for me to care for them. It’s a foregone conclusion in my book.”
The author goes on to regale us with a tale of his soon to be brother-in-law. The gentleman in question was confronted with an economic collapse scenario, and answered relatively true-to-type. When asked to consider what he would do if the economy got bad – so bad in fact that if his (the Brother-In-Law’s) dollar did not go very far, he replied “I’ll cut back on things that are luxuries: cable TV, cellular service, etc. and sell his computers, televisions, and the like for a little extra cash.”
When pressed further – the author positing a worst case scenario – the answer was a bit disconcerting – “I would shoot myself. Who would want to live in a world where you could not even buy a loaf of bread at the store?”
Unfortunately for us, the preppers out there, this is a far more common mindset than not. Faced with an uncomfortable and difficult scenario, most people just do not want to think about them. They deflect or sideline the conversation out of a complete lack of comfort and inability to accept that things can actually get that bad. They prefer their nice, comfortable world, where with the flick of a switch or push of a button, most every creature comfort and entertainment is readily available. But, I digress.
The situation posited to me by Moto is rather difficult, to say the least. She has an adult (drinking age) child, whose live-in boyfriend is legally blind. The daughter refuses to prepare at all, and the live in boyfriend has just an inkling of how bad things could get. My initial “heart” reaction is “oh, no, save the kid”, but then my mind reaction kicks in “you are a grown up, you were raised better, you are on your own”.
This is what I can suggest. It will be neither easy, nor pleasant, especially after SHTF. There may be some very nasty words, actions, or even other repercussions that need to be considered based on the personality of the adult child and the quality and caliber of her “friends” before this course of action is taken. I am just putting this here for consideration.
As I outlined very briefly on my show, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Conversations can fall on deaf ears, and normalcy bias (refusal to see the truth even when presented with terrifying and very real evidence) plays a part.
So you begin with two steps: build a disaster prep box and educate them on the contents and what it is used for. Primarily, I would suggest this for 18+ year old children moving out on their own for the first time, going off to college, etc. You can also build for them vehicle kit or get-home bags. How much you decide to do is completely up to you.
The tack to take with this is one of “parental concern”. You live in an area that is, say, prone to blizzards. The Disaster Kit and the Vehicle Kit are designed basically around getting stranded in their abode or on the road. Inside the blizzard disaster kit you would want to include items like a Sterno stove, a case of Sterno (with basic instructions on their use), a stick lighter or boxes of matches, canned food, a manual can opener, some Ramen, instant coffee (or tea bags or both), instant oatmeal (or grits or both), a few gallon jugs of water (cheaper than small bottles of water- get at least 1 gallon of water per person per day), a good LED flashlight, a decent LED lantern, batteries, extra batteries, perhaps even a Little Buddy heater, the adapter hose for a 20 LB propane tank, and one 20 lb. propane tank.
Inside the vehicle kit change the Sterno stove and case of Sterno to a tea light stove and a bag of 100, or better yet 500 tea lights (a tea light stove is a metal cookie tin in which you place 4-5 tea lights, on top of which you place a heavy duty wire mesh cut slightly larger than the tin and bent down on the edges to fit the outside diameter of the tin so it cannot be accidentally knocked off). This stove will function as a stove, light (use only one tea light at a time for lighting purposes), and also give the ability to warm the interior space of the vehicle to above freezing safely. You want to include a bag of 500 or so tea lights, a box of matches or a butane stick lighter, at least 3 gallons of water (1 gallon per person per day- 3 days stranded), and enough canned food for 3 days. Also include a manual can opener, some instant hot beverage (instant hot cocoa works well because it is loaded with sugar, which is loaded with calories, calories equal body heat. However, instant coffee and tea bags are also acceptable – and in my case instant coffee is required), a bottle of bouillon cubes (a warm cup of bouillon goes a long way). You also want to include a stainless camping cup to heat water in (for these hot beverages), re-useable eating utensils (the dollar store typically sells sets of 4 forks or 4 spoons for $1.00. They are metal, inexpensive, and durable), and due to the limited water resources, I would recommend breakfast bars (Clif Bars or Powerbars would be acceptable) for alternative foods (they are compact sources of calories that can be eaten at any time of the day, do not require water or heat to prepare, and come in a variety of flavors). I would not recommend putting Datrex Bars or MREs in these kits. Also include a battery powered LED lantern, LED headlamps, or a decent LED flashlight, batteries (and extra batteries), wool blankets (1 for each person typically riding in the car or even one for each potential passenger), and if feasible add in items like kitty litter (great for traction on icy road conditions if you are stuck), some salt pellets (again for ice melting), and perhaps even a set of tire chains.
The items on that list are fairly straight forward, self -explanatory and easy to use. You may want to attach the adapter hose to the Little Buddy heater in advance then demonstrate how to connect the hose to the 20 lb. tank, and demonstrate how to use the heater safely. Please bear in mind, I just arbitrarily chose blizzard kits. You can build tornado kits, flood kits, earthquake kits, wild fire kits, or even hurricane kits. Build emergency kits to suit the most common or most prevalent potential natural disaster in the area your unprepared family member resides.
Now that you have the kits, what now? You talk to the person(s). You present them with the kit (make a bit of a ceremony out of it, unbox the items; explain the use/function of each as needed). Then you talk about why they are receiving the kit(s). Have a serious heart-to-heart. Explain to them, for example, that they live in an all electrically powered apartment (electric heat, hot water, stove, oven), and during a bad enough blizzard the roads may well be impassible. The power can go out for days at a time, and they need the items to at least be comfortable. Urge them to never use the items in the kit for anything but an emergency, and if they do take something out, batteries, for example, they replace them as soon as they are able. Urge them to take some basic first aid and CPR classes (you never know when you may need those skills, especially if an ambulance cannot get through on impassable roads).
Once you have had the “talk” be sure to close with the fact that you love them, but you may not be able to help them in an emergency. You yourself will have your own hands full. They are grown-up, and you can help them out getting prepared for the “little” things like blizzards, tornados, etc. which may lead to the question “there are bigger things?”
Let your heart lead you this far, once you have laid the basic groundwork, they are on their own. Be absolutely clear on this point.
You may wish to set aside a month’s worth of food for your child/loved one. That way if they do show up at your door knocking when the fecal material has indeed impacted the oscillating air mover, you have some food for them. This is where you have to make the hard choice. Do they bring value to your plans? Do they have skills that you lack? Are they (or those with them) worth keeping around? This is where it can get sticky. If they are going to be a drain, or could possibly compromise your OPSEC, you may indeed wish to turn them away with their “entourage” and the food you set aside for them.
You took the effort to start them down the path to preparedness. If they did not take the opportunity, then they, as adults, have only themselves to blame. Investing any more effort than this into their continued well-being may be detrimental to not only yourself, but the remainder of your family in the long run.
You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.
Got preps? Pray for the best, prepare for the worst.