Sunday, 18 October 2015

08:28 – We made a quick Sam’s Club run yesterday. We met Frances and Al there, since we’d dropped our membership a couple of months ago. We prefer Costco, but there are some things that Sam’s carries and Costco doesn’t.

Lots of ideas seem eminently reasonable until you really think about them. I was reading an article yesterday on a prepper website that focused on so-called OpSec, AKA operational security. Borrowed from the military, the idea of OpSec is to prevent the enemy from learning your position, intentions, capabilities, and other tactical factors. Many preppers seem to believe that this is a useful concept for prepping. The idea is apparently that if no one knows what you’re doing, they won’t show up at your door after TSHTF demanding that you share your stuff.

Good luck with that. The truth is that everyone who might care already knows. You can’t keep it a secret. Your family knows. Your friends know. Your neighbors know. Your mailman and USPS guy know. Your bank and credit card companies know. And the government certainly knows. Secrecy and privacy are quaint ideas that are long gone.

But even assuming that you could somehow keep your preparations a secret from everyone, why would you even bother to try doing so? If/when things get really bad, do you really think no one is going to notice that you seem to be doing well? Do you think if your neighbors are hungry they’re going to ignore the obvious fact that you seem to be thriving? The safe bet is that they’ll show up at your door, armed if it comes to that, and demand that you give them what they want. And you’ll give it to them, voluntarily or involuntarily. I don’t know many people who would just sit on a massive stockpile of food while they watched their friends, neighbors, and their children starve. We’re just not built that way.

Put simply, an individual or small family cannot make it through very bad times on their own. Larger groups are much more likely to survive and thrive because they can bring additional skills and resources to bear. Yes, a larger group means more mouths to feed and most of them won’t have nearly as much stored food as you do. That means your stored food will be feeding not just you and your family, but possibly many others as well.

When our long-term food storage first reached 24 person months, Barbara said that enough was enough. I told her to think about that stockpile not as a year’s supply of food for two people, but as a two months’ supply for a dozen people or even as a month’s supply for 24 people. And that’s still the way I think of it.

If push comes to shove, we’re not going to turn away Barbara’s sister and brother-in-law. That cuts how long our food lasts in half. Adding people cuts down fast on how long x amount of food will last. But we wouldn’t turn away my brother and his wife, either, assuming they somehow made it to our door from the Raleigh area. Nor would we turn down our new next-door neighbors. If Paul and Mary show up at our door, we’re certainly not going to slam it in their faces. And so on.

It’s very easy to focus on the drawbacks of a larger group while ignoring the advantages. One of our neighbors, for example, might be a farmer. They might not have enough food stored to last the family for the winter (although they might; rural residents are much more likely to be prepared than are urban and suburban residents.) But if we can give them enough additional food for them to survive the winter, they may be able to bring in a crop next spring, in which we would share. They also have cattle, and a good ongoing source of animal protein would be very important.

In short, if you decide that you’re only out for yourself, best case you can’t expect any help from other people. None. Zero. And that’s best case. If you put yourself in a position where you can help others when they need it, you can expect others to help you when you need it. And that’s the key to getting through a long-term emergency.

The single most important thing you can do is store more food than you think you’ll need. Much more. Bulk staples are cheap now, so stock up on them while you still can. Once we relocate, we’ll be buying 50-pound bags of sugar, flour, beans, salt, and other bulk staples. We’ll also maintain a good supply of vegetable oil, because oils and fats are both critical and hard to come by in a widespread long-term emergency. We won’t be able to help everyone, but we will be able to help some people, and that goes a long way toward ensuring our own security.