The Practical Prepper
Last July, Scott Adams had a Dilbert cartoon where Dilbert's coworker Alice lets him know that she's planning on going to his place in the event of a financial meltdown. As with all Dilbert cartoons, it's very funny. While meant as a joke, such a thing is all too possible if you talk freely about your prepping efforts.
As we've continued implementing our preparedness plans, we do the following:
- Being discreet: Like Dilbert in the cartoon mentioned above, we're cautious about who we talk to about our preparedness plans. We realize that anyone who knows that we have supplies set aside will probably remember that fact. Each person that knows about our preparedness could very like mean another person on our doorstep in a disaster. We recognize our obligation to adequately prepare for our immediate family, so we remember that "loose lips [can] sink ships." Morally, we'd like to be able to help others in an emergency, however, we also know that it will be impossible to help everyone.
- Considering our surroundings: As much as possible, we try to stay aware of who's around and potentially watching as we bring supplies into our home or storage buildings. We'll wait to unload our vehicle if there are people in the area when we get home from the store, and we've bought obvious prepping supplies and/or large quantities (e.g., cases of water or food, etc.).
- Moderating our purchases: Where it's practical, we buy smaller quantities over time. Our buying two cases of water, or even three, is not that unusual. Buying 10, 20, or higher quantities is memorable. When we come across a very good deal, and we want to buy larger quantities, we try to buy at a time that is less busy. As mentioned above, we unload discreetly too, or perhaps unload the goods over time. For instance, we'll take a few in the house, then go back later and unload more.
- Storing food appropriately: We don't make our food storage preparations obvious, wherever possible. For example, our food storage is in a cool, dry location that is out of the way. We have sometimes stored some food in a frequently trafficked area of our home. In that event, we'll try to camouflage the supplies or keep them hidden. Storing cans under the bed, in end tables, in closets, or even in customized pieces of furniture are all methods that can help. (Just keep the temperature and humidity needs in mind.)
- Not being obvious about supplies: We use a similar approach for any of our stored supplies aside from food. We try to keep things at the ready, but not in a way that screams "here are a bunch of supplies for the taking." For example, we store our extra fuel safely under cover and out of the way. Even for items that aren't clearly "prepping" related, keeping them out of site provides a first line of defenes against theft. Have a couple cords of firewood? Keep the bulk of it out of the way, e.g., behind a garage or shed.
- Hiding in plain sight: As mentioned with the firewood, some items are a useful part of preparedness planning, but don't automatically label one as a "prepper" or a "target" in a disaster. For example, we carefully chose a grill that we can use now and in an emergency (and have done so!). Everyone just sees a grill, but we know that it's a valuable cooking tool when the electricity is out. The "green" movement has helped considerably too. Case in point: consider that an "environmentally friendly" rain barrel for gardening water provides a great backup water supply.
- Keeping things secure: All of the above helps with our discretion, but we also use obvious things like secured covers, doors, gates, and/or padlocks for security. Keeping these devices in place and appropriately locked will at least keep the "casual observer" or other curious person out of your supplies.
We use the above approach to help keep our preparedness supplies ready for when our family needs them. In the end, being discreet simply gives us a measure of control. It affords us more options in whether, and how, we choose share our supplies and help others.
In considering the above, we must emphasize two things. First, the object of this post is not to advocate paranoia. Instead, we just use common sense in our preparations, and urge you to do the same.
Secondly, we keep in mind that the point of our preparing and being as self-reliance as possible is not to isolate ourselves. Rather, the ultimate point of these activities is to allow us (both as individuals and families) to make it through an emergency and ultimately ensure that our community continues. Certainly, our obligation is first and foremost to our families. But, as noted above, we also have some level of moral commitment to our neighbors and others in the surrounding area too.
So, in what ways have you practiced discretion in your preparedness? Who have you shared your plans with, if anyone?
Believing that preparedness and self-reliance are key to individual freedom, Atticus Freeman is the founder of the Self-Reliant Info blog, in addition to authoring The Practical Prepper weekly blog here on Farm Dreams. Thanks for reading!