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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Involving Family in Prepping

Native Persimmon Harvest

Originally uploaded by nodigio

In the last post, I talked a bit about forming a local survival group and briefly mentioned some ways to persuade others to join you: the neighborhood watch, the block potluck/BBQ, safety classes, etc.

Before you start seeking group members outside your home, you first need to get the support of those who live with you – roommates, significant others, spouses, children, parents… The people inside your home need to be willing participants. They need to understand what you’re doing and why, and to know it’s not just a passing phase. There will be compromises and you may not get to do things exactly the way you want to do them, but you can work together to prioritize what’s important and develop a timeline for implementing various changes.

If necessary, use local events to help you in your persuasion. If there were a rash of burglaries or vandalism nearby, talk about keeping the home safe and what to do if your home is invaded. If you pass a bad car accident, talk about car maintenance and safety. If you get a flat, have other family members fix it while you supervise so they learn how to do it. If there’s a storm and a brief power outage (a day or two), talk about the need to have back-up power, food, and water.

Ease into the discussions about survival by using current events world wide as well. We haven’t had another actual terrorist strike on US soil since 9/11, and honestly, terrorist strikes are the least of our worries about safety. We have the economic meltdown (which is more disastrous for the wealthy and those who overspent their income than the rest of us, but it’s still a talking point), we have a surge in hate groups forming, we have police storming the wrong homes under the no-knock warrants, we have contaminated food supplies, and each of these is a valid reason and way to start a conversation about safety and survival.

Talk about the things that are immediate concerns: credit scores, food costs, bills, home invasions, traffic, neighborhood watches, safe places for the children to play, storm safety, car safety, and so on. Find the places that are of the greatest concerns, and start there. You don’t need to start off building an arsenal and barricading the house with cases of toilet paper. Once you’ve identified the areas that most concern your household, make plans to protect those concerns.

I’m partial to flip charts, but am beginning to enjoy the conveniences of a Powerpoint presentation. Others may prefer spreadsheets and newspaper clippings. Use whatever tools and methods you feel work best for you.

Credit card companies are dropping credit levels and raising interest rates even on those who pay on time and are a good credit risk not because your credit is bad but because their credit is bad – there are ways to fix this, by the way, so your credit score isn’t damaged because your credit card company is taking a hit. That’s part of the survival skills we sub/urbanites need to learn.

Insurance is still a useful tool. I know, I’ve posted before about ways to live without insurance. It is possible. 50 years ago, it was mostly the wealthy that had insurance. Insurance companies changed that because they make money off of collecting premiums from people who may never file a claim and investing that money so it earns interest and dividends. The policyholder doesn’t get to benefit from the insurance company’s investments unless they have to file a claim and the insurance company actually pays up on it. So, some insurance is worth having and some isn’t. Because insurance is such a complicated and occasionally necessary item, it deserves its own post. Insurance policies are a part of sub/urban survival.

Survival plans need to include something everyone in the household can relate to and will benefit each of them. Maybe only one person gets the benefit of one item, but that item still needs to be there and be seriously considered. Start slow and small with goals that can be easily achieved and completed that have positive results. This may be a plan to pay off one large bill before moving on to the next. It may be slowly building up your food and water stocks (be sure you create storage space before you acquire the food and water). It may be getting and training a security dog/pet. It may be putting in and actually maintaining a garden and harvesting and preserving its produce.

Learn new skills together. Take a credit counseling/investing/household budgeting class, or a fitness class that will provide defensive skills, a gardening class, or cooking classes. You can ease into cooking classes by visiting one of those meal assembly services.

Those meal assembly services aren’t exactly on most people’s radar as a survivalist class, but it’s a pleasant, supervised way to learn about meal preparation and storage – and you get a week or two of meals from it that can be frozen and eaten later. You pick the meals you want from a menu, set an appointment to visit the assembly kitchen, and they will set up at “stations” that have the ingredients already chopped, diced, peeled, cored, cleaned, etc., and they’ll help you assemble your meals in packaging you either bring or they provide (it varies – ask), and they’ll give you pre-printed cooking instructions to put on the packages so when you get your meals home, you can freeze them now and eat them over the next week or two. If you’ve never cooked before, you learn a lot by using one of these services and can then use your new skills to develop your own menus, shopping lists, and stocking needs. One bonus about using a meal assembly service to learn about meal preparations, menu planning, and meal preservation is that it doesn’t feel like taking a survival class, and it’s a pleasant way to ease into it. Some of these meal assembly places have festive atmospheres, offer snacks, and for the adult-only places, wine as well.

Get your kids involved by getting them in bike safety classes (your local police department may offer free classes), and organizing to create a safe place for them to play that’s not in the street. They can also learn at a meal assembly place that’s kid friendly – and they’ll often like it better than learning at home. Have your kids enroll in a martial arts program or a fencing school and take them to the gun range on Kid Days.

Once your housemates get accustomed to doing things that are survival related, you can step up the plans and preparations and discuss it more frankly with them. If it helps, you can use my post on the Survival Pyramid to show that most of the survival skills they need are ones that will make their lives better, easier, happier, and safer while giving them more freedom. This will particularly appeal to the teens in the family – if they know that you will give them more freedom if they learn and demonstrate they understand basic survival skills, they will learn those skills. More importantly, they’ll share those skills with their friends, so you may keep a larger group of people safer than you expected.

If you want the people in your household to be serious about learning and practicing survival skills, you have to demonstrate daily that you are serious: exercise daily to improve your strength and stamina, improve your diet, practice health wellness, keep the batteries fresh in smoke alarms, do regular maintenance on your car and bicycle, and budgeting out a specific amount after bills are paid to spend on survival and disaster supplies.

Once they are in the habit of thinking about safety and survival, start planning family activities. Let each household member plan, coordinate, and lead preparedness activities. These don’t have to be military grade field maneuvers. They can be fun things like setting up a ham radio or creating a small radio station and broadcasting original content, or planning a meal or meeting, or making your own sodas or soap or jellies.

If you have kids, they’ll get their friends involved. If their friends are involved, their parents may be interested. If their parents are interested, you may have a survival group forming up before you know it.


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