When I first started getting into prepping, one of the first things I purchased was several large IBC totes that I used for emergency water storage. In my suburban home I was unable to find a place to store this water except for outside in my backyard. While everyone in my neighborhood had a six foot privacy fence, everyone somehow seemed to know what everyone had, and my two black 250 gallon totes complete with metal cages for stacking and anti-freezing fittings was the topic of several discussions as curious neighbors casually brought it up while I was doing yard work our front.
Like many with a new found hobby, I was excited to talk about my water and thought it a good opportunity to discuss with them the importance and benefits of being prepared and boast a little as what a good deal I got when purchasing them.
I had also purchased a good chunk of food storage and and camping gear that I had in the house and was not shy discussing my investments. My neighbors are good people, and I honestly couldn’t have been more fortunate. And they seemed genuinely interested and even shared stories about canning and hunting but I quickly realized that every neighbor I talked to didn’t have any kind of food storage, or preparedness items for themselves save a few candles and extra flashlights. One of them had a generator but not the foggiest idea how to connect it to his house.
As the conversation began to wind down almost all of them responded with: “Well I’ll be coming to your house if anything ever happens!” followed up with a chuckle and a good-natured smile. I know that they were just looking for a polite segue into topic of conversation, and I of course laughed with them and jested that they should watch out for the landmines I had in my yard and that was why it was always in less than perfect condition. Their comment to me has stung. Every neighbor that I spoke with the sting got worse until I started telling people that I was experimenting with a new compost method and avoided speaking at all about emergency preparedness.
I knew at that point that I had made a mistake talking about the details of my preps with people who weren’t in the same frame of mind as myself. Even then I knew that I would want to seep the specific details of my preps to myself even if I was talking to a fellow prepper and I would be sure not to ask.
Prepping in a way is very personal. In the off chance that something were to happen, I knew in the back of my mind that several people near me knew that I had a lot of resources and if someone got hungry enough, I could count on them making good on their comment of coming to my house. That would be a confrontation I would prefer to not have.
The truth is that I would probably not be strong enough to turn anyone away. I have always been a helper. I see someone in need and I can’t help but want to do what I can for them. If something were to happen it probably wouldn’t be long before I had the whole neighborhood at my house and what should have fed our family for a good long time would only have benefited everyone for a couple of days. But even if I had the wherewithal to be able to turn people away, information that I had food and water would be out there and it would only be a matter of time before my home would be overrun. What started out as a friendly conversation in my yard would inevitably turn into a violent confrontation.
You don’t have to be a military strategist to realize that the best defense is to severely limit that kind of information to as small a number of people as possible. Civility is only an illusion that we all buy into because none of us are hungry or desperate enough to pull off that veil… yet.
My small prepper group is like a second family to me and even they don’t know the specifics of what I have or where I keep it. We prep together but we all have different plans should the balloon go up so we are not a retreat group. We often take advantage of pooling our money to get better discounts for certain purchases but we don’t share the specifics of our private purchases. Not that we don’t trust each other, but rather it frees us from the responsibility of having to keep that information secret.
Be mindful about who you share your information with. Since I adopted this personal policy I haven’t heard those dreaded words again.