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I have a wife who is supportive and involved in our family’s prepping. She’s interested in how we should respond to various possibilities, helps pick out some of our gear, and assigns a line item in the family budget for prepping supplies. But it didn’t take me long to discover that not everyone is so blessed. Having a significant other resistant or hostile to one’s prepping is apparently a “thing.”
In an emergency, we really need the other adults in our home to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem–whether they be a spouse, parents, or grown children. They need to know what to do, what resources are available, and what we’re thinking. Our preparations are lacking if we have supplies, kits, and plans, but also families unable and unwilling to use them properly.
My perception of the problem is that “preppers” are seen as somehow “not normal.” Fitness, backyard grilling, or music are desirable mainstream passions. Prepping–associated too often with bunkers, hoarding, and too much camouflage–is an undesirable fringe activity. I don’t like it, I don’t agree with it, but I try to be prepared to deal with it. To get the support and cooperation of one’s household, then, one needs to change the narrative–to move prepping from “kooky” to “responsible.” Here are some ideas for changing peoples’ perspectives about prepping.
Get the government on your side
Yeah, I know many readers are critical of the government’s intentions and ability to help in a disaster. We should probably minimize this skepticism if we want to be perceived as more mainstream. And the truth is, however government agencies may have bungled this or that disaster or emergency situation, the government devotes a lot of resources to preparing for emergencies, and sees the need for us to do our part in preparing as well. Your household needs to get this. Download and print Red Cross Publication 658613 (also FEMA publication 477), “Food and Water in an Emergency.” Point out the large logos on the front page of the Red Cross (mainstream! trustworthy!) and FEMA (government! authority!). Read together the first page, where it says:
If an earthquake, hurricane, winter storm, or other disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water, and electricity for days or even weeks. By taking some time now to store emergency food and water supplies, you can provide for your entire family.
Turn to the next page and highlight the part about “Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your
food supply for two weeks, consider maintaining a supply that will last that long.” Don’t overlook the part beginning on page 13 about bugging out (“evacuate”) with a disaster supplies kit, and talk of an additional 72-hour supply of food and water, radios, batteries, first aid, cash, etc.
Direct your web browsers to FEMA’s “Be informed about disasters” link, which declares “I don’t need to worry” is a “myth,” and recommends taking shelter, bugging out, developing a family communications plan, and putting together an emergency supply kit. This addresses the “normalcy bias” people have, the idea that there hasn’t been any disaster lately so there won’t be any in the future.
See? You’re not one of those wacky preppers, you are–in the words of the Homeland Security Department’s Federal Emergency Management Agency–a responsible citizen “protecting yourself and your family.” First draft of the new narrative: done.
Take a balanced approach
A healthy response to an emergency involves a good balance of preparation, gear, skills, supplies, and knowledge. Sadly, we’ve all seen people whose idea of preparing is just to stockpile scary firearms and knives, who are too physically unfit to bug out to the corner, who have an evacuation destination but no plan for getting there, etc. They’re part of the reason your family doesn’t see prepping as mainstream. You take a balanced approach: your fitness routine lends credibility to the 60-pound bugout bag taking up closet space; your regular maintenance of the brakes on the family sedan and household smoke alarms provides context to your purchase and maintenance of some appropriate firearms; the family vacation in the woods tacitly answers questions about fire steels and all those sharp-bladed implements; keeping containers of fresh gasoline in a shed near the generator are part of a story that includes life and health insurance and a growing savings account.
The goal here is to be taken seriously because you take your family seriously. It’s hard to believe someone is really trying to prepare for an EMP attack when they show no concern for a house fire. Be consistent and comprehensive in your preparations–character development for that new narrative you’re writing!
Use mainstream conventions
“Regular” families don’t generally practice bugging out. However, plenty of regular families do go camping. While not many dads teach their children how to live in the woods in the case of urban unrest, lots of dads teach their children how to catch fish and cook them up wrapped in leaves. “Normal” people don’t stockpile a year’s worth of food in their garage…unless they’re into couponing, and know which times of year are cheapest for stocking up on commonly used items such as toilet paper or laundry soap. (Someone else will have to write the article about how to justify one’s extreme couponing.) Instead of creating a communications system for when the grid goes down, why not take up the hobby of amateur radio? Instead of a talk of “bugging out,” talk about visiting out-of-town relatives.
Lots of mainstream hobbies can provide respectable cover for your sketchy prepper impulses: gardening, craft beer brewing, hiking, sailing, wine tasting (need a wine cellar for that), mountain biking, free-range chicken raising, etc. etc. etc.
It turns out that a lot of prepping activity is not so far from the mainstream until the actual label “prepper” comes into play. Is that narrative about the end of the world–or is it an advertisement for an active and vibrant lifestyle?
At the end of the day, you can’t make the key people in your home be as committed as you are to being ready for what may come. But invest the time and effort in sharing an alternate story that explains your interest in gear, supplies, and unusual activities–the reward is worth it!
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