When you start talking about threats like solar flares, nuclear meltdowns, economic collapse, etc., you probably get that look from your neighborhoods. You know – that look like you must be paranoid and crazy. This used to bother me and I’d waste a lot of energy breaking down the many likely disasters which could occur, and what would happen in the aftermath. Now, I’ve learned self-acceptance and don’t give these naysayers my time (more on that here).
But, as much as I’d like to believe that my family and I can survive by ourselves in a disaster situation, the reality is that humans are social animals. Humanity came to be because we worked together and formed communities. We are stronger together than we are alone. This is why I am taking steps to get my neighbors involved in a community-wide survival plan.
Why a Community-Wide Survival Plan is Necessary
Still not convinced that we are stronger together? Consider these reasons why you would benefit from getting your neighbors involved in your survival plan:
- Your neighbors won’t come banging on your door for food and shelter when SHTF
- You will have more resources together. You can’t possibly stockpile everything you need for survival yourself. Together, you will have more supplies – like your one neighbor’s tool set and another neighbor’s larger yard for gardening.
- You will have a more diverse skill set. Are any of your neighbors doctors, pharmacists, welders, construction workers, chefs, etc.? These are all skills which will come on in handy when SHFT.
- Safety in numbers. Thieves and looters look for the weakest target. You will be less of a target when you are together.
- More weapons and defenses. You can set up a perimeter and watch around the neighborhood and together will have more weapons/ammo to defend your property.
How to Get Your Neighbors Involved
Please don’t go knocking on your neighbors’ doors talking about EMP and terrorist attacks. They will think you are crazy and will dismiss your plan before you can even get started. This is a much better way to get your community involved.
1. Identify the Most Likely Risks for Your Community
You might know that there is a big risk for an EMP attack – but your neighbors probably don’t. Instead, make a list of the most likely disasters to hit your community. For example, if you live in California, an earthquake would be the biggest threat. In Florida and Southern States, hurricanes are a big threat. In big cities, the threat might be from rioting and looting, terrorist attack, or a pandemic. Focus on these disasters when calling for community meetings.
2. Find Out What Emergency Plans Already Exist
Did you know that the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA have a program called Ready which aims to educate people about potential disasters and encourages people to take steps to prepare?
At the core of Ready is the Citizen Corps. The Citizen Corps is all about coordinating disaster and survival prep activities so communities become stronger and safer. You can go here to find your nearest Citizen Corps manager. If you don’t have a manager in the area, you can register your council and become the manager.
If you approach your neighbors or call a community meeting under the title of Citizen Corps, it will hold a lot more weight than if you just approach them as that “crazy neighbor” talking about EMP.
3. Call a Community Meeting
Depending on the size of your community, you can make it very official by calling the meeting at the city hall (being a member of Citizen Corps will help you do this) or even have the meeting in your living room.
4. Start with Personal Preparedness
Before you start advocating for community-wide plans, encourage each member of your community to take steps for personal preparedness. Remember, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” If your neighbors are prepared for disaster with the basics like emergency food stockpiles and water, then you will benefit (no one will come banging on your door when SHTF!).
It helps to make a list of emergency supplies that your neighbors should stockpile. Start slow! You can’t expect your neighbors to go from zero to having a 30-day doomsday supply overnight. So, leave items like Bug Out Bags off the list for now. Just include the basics like water, food, lighting, sanitation supplies, and first aid items.
*Watch Your Language! As Prepper Mom points out, one of the reasons why people think preppers are crazy is because of the language we use. Please refrain from using terms like Bug Out Bag, SHTF, Collapse Day, The End of the World, Without Rule of Law…
5. Set Goals
Setting clear goals and a system of accountability is necessary for success, and this also applies to community disaster planning.
Again, at your first community disaster meeting, take it slow! This first meeting is simply to set the tone, create awareness, and encourage personal preparedness. Set a date for a next meeting.
At each meeting, have a specific topic to be discussed and tasks for each community member to do. For example, these are some of the goals you could have for each meeting:
- 1st Meeting: Introductory meeting; create awareness and set the tone
- 2nd Meeting: Talk about basic disaster supplies; have all members start stockpiling supplies
- 3rd Meeting: Check in on how stockpiling of supplies is going; talk about ways to save money on stockpiling and how to properly stockpile food
- 4th Meeting: Emergency first aid; have everyone build a first aid kit for survival; maybe hold a class in first aid
- 5th Meeting: Emergency sanitation; talk about emergency toilets and have each member set up a system
These are just examples of how the community disaster planning meetings could go. I like the idea of presenting one topic per meeting, and providing a checklist of preparedness steps to go along with the topic. As you continue with the meetings, you will get into more in-depth topics. You will also switch from personal-preparedness topics to more community-wide topics – such as how to defend your community from attackers, assigning roles, and practicing drills.