A lot of what people know about preppers and survivalists comes from the critical side of the media. Whether someone has heard a negative news item like the 'survivalist' who killed cops in Pennsylvania, or heard about the TV show Doomsday Preppers, which just by it's very name can sound fairly extreme, there is plenty of marginalization being directed towards the prepper community.
But you have seen the light and have finally come to the realization that maybe you should get ready for some future emergency yourself! You don't want to rely on the government for help in a large emergency, as we found out with Hurricane Katrina, they kind of screwed up on that one.
So you tell your loved one(s) that you want to start prepping and to store some food and water for starters, and you get a blank stare, or worse you get treated like a loonie at the insane asylum.
Well, here are a few ideas to deal with the naysayer in your house . . .
Maybe you've come across too strong. It's easy to get enthusiastic when starting something new. You've read tons of information and want to make a (positive) change. It seems so obvious that something should be done. But your spouse hasn't seen the information that you have and when you try to explain it, it just sounds like you are being alarmist.
This is when you have to cool down and do some planning. A strategy will let you conquer that naysayer by using little steps, because doing too much at once will become overwhelming. Don't worry, you are not the only one. Take a look at this poll result below taken from an online prepping forum that asks what their spouse thought about prepping for an emergency.
These results are not too bad actually, about 70% said that hey feel supported with their prepping. However, for the other 30% that might be having a tougher time, let's go through a few ideas to help you get your household prepared without having to get an earful every time you bring something up or make a purchase.
How To Proceed
There are two main strategies that you can use, try to gradually change the other person's mind so that you can work together, or just secretly prep without letting the other know what you are doing. Depending on the level of hostility that you are receiving, you will have to decide what will work best for you.
Ultimately it's always best if you can work together and discuss it, but there could be situations that you might want to conceal from your loved one if you really think it crucial.
It's always best to understand the reason why the other person does not agree with you. If you can't have a full conversation about it, then you will need to pick out the pieces from smaller exchanges. Once you can start grasping the underlying resistance, then you can start to work on either changing the person's opinion by using facts, or working within the framework that you both can agree on.
Here are a few of the common reasons that someone might not be willing to invest in making preparations. Your spouse (or family) may be harboring any or even a combination of all of these judgements without even realizing.
Possible Resistance Points
- Nothing that bad will ever happen
- That's what the police are for
- The government (will somehow) take care of the emergency (and us)
- It's too expensive
- We don't have the space
- Your spending too much time on prepping
- It's too dangerous to have those weapons in the house (especially with kids)
- You're becoming too paranoid and worrying about things too much
- People will think we are strange
Slowly Opening Their Eyes
You don't want to overwhelm the other person so you need to take gradual steps. Let's go through the points above and give you some ideas on how to deal with them.
Nothing that bad will ever happen - This is probably the biggest mental obstacle, in that sometimes the person just doesn't want to think about some catastrophe (or anything negative for that matter) happening around them. Many people have never been through a grave emergency and so do not think that it will ever happen to them. It is a form of denial.
Of course bad stuff does happen, but lets try not to focus on the end of the world scenario. Agree on this point, that the chances of some drastic emergency is very low, which is true. Focus then on something that has a higher chance of happening. Depending on where you live, you can try to choose an example that has a higher likelihood of happening such as a hurricane, major storm, earthquake, tornado etc.
Start with something small and common, like making sure you have a fire extinguisher in the house and making sure you (and the other person) knows how to use it. This will get the other person thinking about safety and how you already have some safety items in the house.
Once you break down the psychological barrier about acquiring safety items, there is not that big of a step 'to how about we keep some extra water bottles (gallon jugs) in the basement' for example, just in case the water goes out for whatever reason. Then you can keep going from there, again in small steps.
That's what the police are for - This is telling you that the other person is used to relying on some outside help. Bring up the fact that what if there is a small fire? Do you run outside and wait for the firemen to come while the fire gets bigger, or do you try to do something about it before it gets out of control and grab the fire extinguisher. Going further along . . wouldn't it be a good idea to have something to help in a break-in situation for example, like an alarm system for starters, or a weapon . . .
The Government Will Take Care Of The Problem - Remember, we don't want to sound extreme so while this might be true in the long term, in the more immediate term while you are in an emergency don't expect anyone to take care of you. Show them how long it took for the disaster relief efforts to reach those affected by Hurricane Katrina, or more recently, the six foot dumping of snow that Buffalo, NY had in almost one day! Sometimes the vehicles just can't get to you. Sometimes the power is out for a full week like with Hurricane Sandy.
It's Too Expensive - You might need to negotiate an allowance to spend toward your prepping to stay within your budget. That way both of you are happy. Another way to come at it is to use any money saved by buying food in bulk towards other preps. This solves two problems at once. You have extra food stored and money to use on other things.
There Is No Space - Food storage doesn't need to take a lot of room if you organize properly. Make sure you are doing that. Water on the other hand can take up more room. If you've reached your space capacity for water, then look into getting some filtration options that will enable you get clean water without having to store it.
Your Spending Too Much Time - You might be spending time on learning skills for example that take you away or keep you busy. If your loved one is saying you are spending too much time doing that, it might just be their way of saying that they want to spend more time with you, or that they miss you, which is a good thing. You need balance in your relationships, so don't get too focused on prepping and forget about the people around you.
No Guns In The House - I can sympathize because this is the situation that I am in. My wife would probably rather divorce me than let me get a gun. Luckily, she isn't much bothered by other weapons that can be very useful in a survival situation. Myself, I've taken up an interest in archery, for example. Purchase a nice slingshot and modify it into a slingbow. You can also look into blowguns. Chances are that you will be able to pass these other weapons through the spouse filter. Just don't make a big deal of it and probably she won't either.
You're Being Paranoid - Again, balance is required. If you spend lots of time checking news to get the jump on some catastrophic event and keep mumbling about the government trying to put everyone in concentration camps, then maybe you just need to relax. You are prepping to be able to keep yourself alive and safe, but if you are keeping yourself under constant stress (or causing the people who live with you under constant stress), then that doesn't lead to a very happy life. At the very least, think it, but don't say it. Do as much as you can but don't announce your plans or make it too obvious.
People Might Think You (We) Are Strange - First off you say, how are they going to find out? It's not like people come inspecting our storage areas very often, so if you don't tell people what I am doing, no one will know.
The problem here is that we have no idea how people are in their homes. We don't get to see the details, just the social veneered persona that they have when they are out in public. Your next door neighbor can be a bigger prepper than you are and you could have no idea. So in reality everyone has their quirks, their hobbies, we just don't necessarily know about them.
I've found that if you can just think up an alternative reason for what you are doing, then things go a lot more smoothly. You don't have to mention that you are prepping every time you want to buy or do something.
Take Up A New Hobby - You can take up an interest in gardening, or maybe you want to go hiking or camping more often. Of course you need to buy a few things for that. Eventually you have a greenhouse and no one looks twice. There are plenty of survival skills that can be learned within the framework of it just being a hobby.
Do It For The Kids - Gardening is a great one. You need to teach your kids about where 'real' food comes from. While you are doing that, teach them about other wild plants that are in your yard. Buy a field guide or two to help you identify plants that grow in the area. I recently took advantage of my daughter's interest in archery after watching the kid's movie Brave, and bought her an archery set.
Saving Money - Buying food in bulk, gardening, canning are all good ways to save money. You are not prepping, wink wink, when doing those things. Going to the store less often also saves time and money as well.
Sometimes using certain words puts people on edge. We are used to associating certain activities with certain kinds of people as well, so just be more careful how you talk about your stores or what you are doing.
Words To Use:
- Insurance in case of; hurricane, winter storm, power outage, etc. Use specific instances and not generic or scary words like disaster or apocalypse
- Preparing - instead of 'prepping'
- Stocking up (to save money) - instead of 'storing'
- Putting things in the long term pantry - instead of 'storage'
- Emergency Bag - not 'Bug Out Bag'
- Going Camping or Hiking - not 'practicing wilderness survival'
Engagement With Ordinary Things
- Have your spouse help out by checking the smoke alarms, replacing the batteries
- Ask your wife if she knows how to use the booster cables in the car, then show her how if she doesn't
- Ask if her if she knows how to use the fire extinguisher
- Ask her if she knows where the cutoff switch for the water is in case something happens while you are not home
- Take a CPR course (usually free) and ask that your spouse attend as well
These are all 'regular' things that won't put anyone's back up. I am sure you can think of a few more that apply to your situation. By doing this you are showing the other person (without lecturing) that being safe and getting prepared is something that can be taken into their own hands and not only something that other people do. This might smooth the way for more understanding.
In Summary . . .
So, when you are faced with a spouse or family member that is looking at you sideways because you are prepping, um, I mean preparing, here are a few thoughts:
- Take it slow. Don't push if you meet resistance. The metaphor about the frog in a boiling pot of water comes to mind.
- Take cues from the news to open a discussion, "what if that happened here?"
- Use non-alarmist language, and find 'normal' reasons as to why you are interested in things. Remember you are just a normal person too!
- You don't have to announce every little prep you have done.
- Have them take control of their own safety in small steps
- Sometimes the other person will be right, you don't really have to make that purchase.
- Communication and balance is the most important thing in a relationship
- Remind them that you are doing it because you love them and want to keep them safe.
Hopefully this post helps you be able to convince your spouse or family member to agree that your prepping is really a good thing.
If you have any other ideas, be sure to let us know!