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EV001408Traditional thinking about OpSec (Operational Security) is that we should keep quiet about our preps. In a catastrophic event, the thinking goes, civil unrest immediately follows and those who don’t have food will steal – by force, if necessary – from people who do. Everyone who has talked to many people about their prepping activities — that they store food, water, medicine, and supplies — has been told by someone, “If anything ever happens, I’m coming to your house!” Being interpreted, that means they have no intention of spending their time and money to prep. Why bother? You’ve already done it all for them. And when times do go bad, they’ll remember that you have what they need. And they’ll tell their friends and family about you, too. And all of them will tell their friends and family. So good OpSec dictates that if you want to keep what you’ve stored, you keep your mouth shut and not reveal to anyone what you’re doing.

I agree with that…to a point. But I’ll get to that.

We have purposefully gone against traditional OpSec with this website because we think that it’s important to get the word out to others about the need to prep. And we want to inform you and encourage you to prepare your family for the time when life continues, but with some major changes from how we know it today.

About a month ago we attended PrepperFest in Columbus, OH. It was our first prepper conference and we found it to be well worthwhile. One of the workshops was by Black Dog Survival School. I found the instructor’s take on OpSec to be surprising and so much more realistic than the traditional perspective. He asked a question that went something like this:

“How long after SHTF do you think it will take for those around you to figure out that you have food, shelter, heat, fire, and water?”

His answer – about two days after they run out, which will probably be about three days after the catastrophic event. I think he’s probably right. That means that by Day Five, unless you live in a really remote location, your OpSec will be shot, too, and you will have to make some critical and difficult decisions:

Will you share what you have and, if so, with whom?

In the cozy security of life-as-we-know-it, you may be able to take a hard line and answer that question very narrowly – you’ll share only with those you’ve prepped for or with. In other words, anyone else who comes knocking at your door will be turned away, probably at gunpoint. Or maybe you’re more generous and think you’ll share with your extended family and neighbors. But how far does that extend?

Will you really be able to say “no” to your children and their spouses and children? What about your in-laws and their families, including that brother-in-law who drives you nuts? What about your children’s in-laws?

As I recall, the speaker said when they honestly looked at their family tree, they decided that they would be prepping for fourteen people. Yep, fourteen. Because to do otherwise meant that they would be saying to people they love (and/or have an obligation to), “No, I can’t give you food – you will have to go hungry.”

Phil and I don’t have children, so we don’t have to deal with the heart-wrenching decisions of giving our rapidly decreasing food to our children and their in-laws. Sadly, we also don’t live near our siblings, so we don’t face sharing with them and their families either. (I wish we did.) But the question extends to our friends. Would we really tell our closest friends, “Sorry, we can’t share our water with you”? I can tell you the answer to that is “no” because we’ve already said, “Brother /sister, if you are in need and we can help, please come to us.” Just because life has changed doesn’t negate that promise we’ve made.

Of course, the problem is exacerbated when we know that some of the dear friends we’ve said that to have grown children and grandchildren. Despite our best efforts to convince them of the need, they are not preppers. How far does our grace extend? In all honesty, we struggle with that question, because supplies will disappear rapidly in a truly catastrophic event.

And then there is the neighbor who sees that we have food and water when they have none. Will we really say “no”? And will that honor God?

The conference speaker encouraged three actions that I totally agree with:

  • Think through this discussion with your spouse honestly. Lose the bravado and macho attitude. Pray about it. What would God have you to do?
  • Prep more food and water. More than you need for your family. More than you need for your extended family. More.
  • Break OpSec with those you care about. Talk about prepping with your family, friends, and neighbors. Don’t be the crazy doomsday relative or neighbor, but plan get-togethers and get to know one anothers’ skills and assets. Encourage prepping in whatever way makes sense for each person. Challenge each person to go a bit beyond what they think they can or should do.

So what do you say the person who simply says, “If that happens, I’m coming to your house”? I’ve developed a new response to that. It’s something like, “OK. What are you bringing to the party? What are you prepared to contribute to the group?” And if there is an opening, I continue, “You see, you are welcome at my house and I will share what I can with you, but understand that if I share my year’s supply of food with you, we then only have a six months’ supply. And if you bring your husband, we now have only a four months’ supply of food. And four months isn’t long enough to grow enough food for all of us to continue to live on. So what will you contribute?”

Overwhelmed by this? Thinking, “Hey, I’m still trying to get enough food for me and my family set aside and now you want me to do more?” Then step away from this article and revisit it in a few months. We’re all at different places in our preps. Over the past few months I’ve just come to realize that more really is better. And that our goal of having enough food and water for “Phil and I and some to share” needs to be modified to “Phil and I and LOTS to share.”

13 Responses to Breaking OpSec

  • Christian Gains says:

    You really make your point well. Thanks!

    This has been a dilemma for “preppers” since the beginning of this Nation

    The crux of this matter is that:

    #1] We draw folks to us, educate them, and build trust between the folks you’ve drawn together.

    #2] The “What do you plan to bring to the party” question is VERY well termed…and is educational…they PROBABLY had never really thought it through. btw…a TEAM has to be developed BEFORE the “event sequences begin”.

    #3] People of a “like Mind & faith” are the BEST people to trust…building a firm foundation & strong TEAM depends upon developing unity, and, to do THAT depends upon a “like mindedness” between the members. Critical, demeaning, negativism cannot be tolerated, and MUST be avoided as much as possible. A POSITIVE ATTITUDE is one of the greatest “gifts” a “Prepper” can have.

    Thanks again, your points are WELL MADE and inspiring.

    • Thanks for your great comments. I totally agree with them, esp finding people of “like mind & faith” AND the importance of a positive attitude. We have many friends that meet those criteria…but few that embrace the need to prep. Still praying & looking. Be blessed.

  • Zoeanne says:

    Thanks for this article. We are haunted by the decisions we may have to make concerning extended family. We’ve encouraged them to start prepping and said we’d be happy to help them get started. They still joke about coming to our place instead. We’ve prepped for 14 people and can’t handle any more. My heart breaks over this.

    • I love your heart, Zoeanne. Sounds like you are at the point of relying fully on God for those you cannot prep for. As Jay said, at least they’ll be bringing manual labor when the time comes. It also sounds to me like a good blog about how to encourage others to join us as preppers is in order…I’ll have to find one on the subject because we’re in the same boat as you and others – people either humor us (but really think we’ve gone round the bend a bit) or they have excuses about why they can’t prep.

  • Jay says:

    This is one of the most common sense articles that I have read on this subject in a long time. I have never understood the mindset of those that think to lock themselves away and guard their stores from everyone that they knew and potentially watch them suffer through a disaster or long term event.

    I have in-laws that live near us and they take my family’s prepping with indulgent looks and smiles. It isnt like I could deny them access to what we have set aside should it ever be needed, even if i wanted to. That isnt the way to remain married, nor is it something I am particularly geared to do.

    My solution to this isnt one that everyone will agree with but it works for my personal situation: yes, they are welcome and would be should we ever have to fully utilize our preps and we are prepping accordingly. However, what they will bring to the table is labor. There will be cooking, cleaning, general chores that will need to be done and it will fall to them to pitch in their efforts in this area.

    • Thanks, Jay. I have had thoughts similar to yours – if nothing else, they’ll be bringing the labor. Because, like you – I’m sure not going to so “no” to all of them.

  • anona says:

    Struggle with these decisions! This did not happen over night. Teotwawki has been coming for years. For those that didn’t prep then stay away, far away from what my wife and I have stored up. There is no compromise, stay away or suffer the consequences. That includes immediate family and their offspring. We provided the ingrates with food, clothing, shelter, college degrees, down payments on their homes, and a host of other stuff. If they don’t won’t to prep: then die: Period.

    • You are totally correct that this didn’t happen over night. For me, though, I won’t be able to say to those I love “sorry – you didn’t see things the way I did before teotwawki, so now I will eat while you go hungry.” Admitting to that has reduced my stress now while encouraging me to become more prepared. For me, those are good things. Community is important. But I recognize that I am bucking conventional thinking.

  • Brad says:

    My wife and I have given this much thought. Over the years, we have helped others and given to the point where we were damaging our ability to provide for ourselves, usually with little or no appreciation from the people we went out of our way to help. It’s easy to sit in my climate controlled home with a full belly and say I will or won’t do something in the future when (and I’m pretty sure it’s “when”, not “if”) the unprepared relatives and friends start showing up. The point we are hung up on is this- there isn’t a way to determine “how much” of your supplies you can afford to share before you place yourself and your immediate family (the ones who did without extra niceties to prepare) at increased risk? Emergencies are usually obviously short lived. Power outages due to ice, storms, localized events, etc. But not every SHTF event comes with an “expiration” date. Most of the unprepared people in our lives will likely not be bringing anything more than hungry mouths and demanding attitudes with them when they show up at our door. It may sound bad, but I won’t risk the health of my wife in order to provide for ungrateful, selfish people. Children will be fed as they should not suffer for the ignorance and greed of their parents, but the grown ups? Hard decision to make. Dwell on it, Pray on it, and read the book “The Giving Tree”. It’s a kids book that illustrates how many of the unprepared that we know are going to act, and the consequences of providing for them when they aren’t bringing anything to the table to help out.

    • Thanks Brad for your thoughtful response. You’ve hit a number of things squarely on point – but particularly your final statements to “dwell on it, pray on it.” (I haven’t read the book The Giving Tree but will have to look it up.) And I’m really glad it’s a discussion between you and your wife.

      One place I differ from you is that in a true SHTF event, I don’t have the expectation that people will have demanding attitudes and be ungrateful. (Selfish, yes.) I may be totally wrong, but I think (at least at first), when people truly understand their need they will be appreciative that anyone can help. I could be sadly surprised.

      Your point about “how much” is very good. We just don’t know and any estimates at the time of the event will probably be optimistic.

  • Brad says:

    Sandy-
    I hope you are right in regards to the attitudes we can expect. I don’t want to come across as heartless, thus I want to explain how I arrived at the conclusion that makes me think the unprepared would be “demanding”.

    One of the primary contributing factors is our experience with others when it comes to sharing and/or helping out. Quite literally, we have experienced the demanding sort of attitude much more often than one of simple gratitude. I cannot count the number of times others have come to us truly expecting our help as if we owed it to them! Money, time, supplies, labor- they act as if we should give them this simply because we have it and they want it. And often there wasn’t even a simple “thank you” at the end. And they all did it again and again. It came to the point where we simply didn’t answer the phone when we saw certain people were calling because we knew they wanted something again.

    Another primary contributing factor is one that all of us as preppers should consider, – the “entitlement” culture. An example is in this very article…

    Why do we exercise OPSEC? Because we don’t want everyone to know what he have.

    Why don’t we want everyone to know what we have? Because some will either attempt to steal it, or there will be numerous people banging on our doors expecting us to share simply because we have it and they don’t!

    Granted, a good point is made because after a few days it’s going to start to become obvious that we have food, water, etc. while others don’t. However, we still keep details to ourselves, and we all know why.

    This is particularly troubling when the unprepared have been warned to start preparing and refused to! How many of us have heard the phrase “I’ll just come to your house”? I have heard it many times, and I’m sure most of you have as well. That statement is a strong indication of that person’s attitude. They aren’t preparing, and have little or no intention of preparing, but fully expect YOU to provide for them and theirs in the event of an emergency. That is what such a statement means.

    This is completely different than a group of people who agree to support and/or back each other up ahead of time by sharing supplies, manpower, etc. There are people I know who simply cannot afford to prep much. I have their backs and they have mine. I don’t judge them on what they can afford, I judge them on the content of their hearts and their intentions. If they’re trying as best they can then they’re good in my book!

    There are numerous examples in the Bible teaching us that we should help our fellow man. But I don’t know of any that teach us to help our fellow man when he is intentionally trying to take advantage of us. If anyone knows of such a teaching, please post it.

    If I tell you to prepare, and I explain simple, logical reasons as to why you should prepare, and you refuse to do so because your “preps” are simply nothing more than to come to my house and use my supplies, then what is my spiritual responsibility to you? It’s a difficult question. Jesus fed the multitude that showed up with no food, and He did it with a few loaves of bread. Will the Lord provide if we try to take care of the unprepared knocking on our doors?

    As for the book “The Giving Tree”, the last time I read it was in grade school. The short version is there is a little boy who becomes friends with a tree. The little boy needs something and the tree gives of itself in order to help him. I think it starts by giving the boy an apple, then it’s leaves, etc. As the boy continues through life, he keeps returning to the Giving Tree, expecting the tree to continue to provide until at last there is nothing but a stump. The tree is gone, having given everything it had to give, and the boy/man never learned the lesson. Apparently, neither did the tree. In this analogy, WE are the Giving Tree.

    Again, I doubt many of us can state with pure certainty what we will do when that time comes. I hope Love rules that day, but I also hope that the unprepared will finally wake up and do all they can to help. Everything remains to be seen. Pray on it.

    • I so appreciate your response, Brad, and totally 100% agree with your concluding paragraph. As I discussed a bit of this with my husband we went to a discussion of the “willfully ignorant” – that is, those who refuse to believe it could (or is) happening and so don’t prepare. Deception is ruling the world more and more. Yep, we need to pray for that deception to be defeated with truth (i.e., the unprepared will finally wake up). And as I maintain in all matters of faith (and life) – no one has it 100% right – which means I’m wrong in some (lots of?) areas. Lord open our eyes and give us wisdom.

      Thanks for your comments, friend.

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