How well do you know your neighbors? As a prepper, it’s important to think about the community you live in and the people that live nearby. After all, they could be your greatest support or your most imminent threat during a disaster. I have spent several years deeply entrenched in the online prepper community and I’ve discovered that neighbors are really a controversial topic.
Some people are adamant that you should ban together with neighbors to increase your odds for survival. Others insist that you should tell no one about your preps and work extra hard to hide it from the neighbors so they don’t prey on your family to get to your supplies. So which perspective is right? In my opinion, they are probably both wrong. In reality, there is no cookie cutter solution to the neighbor issue. There are too many variables that can change from one prepper to the next so ultimately, you really have to use your own judgment to make this crucial decision.
First and foremost, you have to practice discretion. No matter how friendly the neighbors act during a barbecue, that doesn’t mean they will be on your side during a disaster. In a situation where people are hungry and food is scarce, desperation can cause people to do crazy things. The single mom down the road might shoot you point blank to get a can of beans to feed her starving children. The guy that brought in your mail and fed your dog when you were out of town could try to kill you to get to your stockpile of antibiotics. It’s really a major risk to tell anyone that you are a prepper, much less to disclose details of what you stockpile.
Some argue that they have the weapons and training to protect their stockpiles if an ally suddenly becomes an enemy. But let’s think through things for a minute. What if only one neighbor knows you are a prepper, but he goes down the street and rallies together five or six other families to help. They make a plan to attack your home, kill your family, and divide the supplies so that everyone benefits. Can you realistically say that you are prepared to singlehandedly defend your home against 20-30 armed, angry, desperate people? It’s just not likely.
Obviously, security is a big deal. But on the other hand, there is power in numbers so it could be beneficial to have a few people working with you to mutually protect one another. If you are preparing for a long-term dystopian scenario, you will need to work together with people in your immediate area. You obviously can’t stay holed up in your house for a decade. Unless you live in an extremely remote area with a complete farm at your disposal, you will need outside resources to make it during the years following a disaster.
For centuries, humans have formed communities for one simple reason: there is safety in numbers. One person cannot adequately do everything! Just think of all the daily tasks that you will need to do for long-term survival. You have to hunt, tend the garden, care for livestock if you have them, attend to medical needs, cook, filter water, patrol the area, defend your supplies, chop wood, and you have to sleep at some point. You might be able to make it on your own for a few weeks or even a few months, but you will eventually need to reach out to others and work together.
So do you recruit the neighbors now or wait until disaster strikes to start forming alliances? It really depends on your plans. If you are going to bug out to a remote location, then it’s best to keep your ear to the ground and try to find other preppers with the same plans. Then you can arrange a meet up location and work together from the beginning. On the other hand, you might be planning to bug in and if that’s the case, you need to take a careful look at the people that are living around you. Study the people in your immediate area, get to know the neighbors, and then think about who you can realistically trust. Just because someone lives next door, that doesn’t mean they should be your first choice for a prepping partnership.
Choose your alliances carefully. Each person you select is another mouth to feed and you can’t take that lightly. Your prepping partners need to be as committed as you are and they have to be prepared to pull their weight. That means they need to be working hard to stockpile supplies and prepare now, but they also need to have some kind of usable skill to bring to the table after the disaster.
Take some time to think about the skills that you have and the areas where you are weakest. Then use that list to guide you towards people that have a complimentary skillset. What are the most important skills? You need someone that is well trained for security detail. Think about retired military personnel, police officers, martial arts enthusiasts, or weaponry experts. Medical skills are extremely important. Do you have a trusted friend that is a doctor, nurse or EMT?
Look for a partner that is good at wilderness survival. Maybe it is a former Eagle Scout that can forage for food and build shelters without batting an eye. Someone with farming experience would be fantastic! If you don’t have a green thumb, you need someone that can handle gardening to produce food to sustain your families in the future. Mechanical skills are important too, but they often go overlooked. If you can find a prepping partner that has a knack for building things and can fix practically anything that breaks, that will be priceless!
The Most Important Requirement
If you are going to recruit people to partner with you in a local prepping network, the most important requirement should always be confidentiality. Every single person you select has to be trustworthy and their families must keep things quiet too. Even if the best surgeon in America wants to partner with you, his family has to also pass the loyalty test. Maybe his wife thinks his interest in prepping is silly and jokes with her friends about how they are forming a local doomsday club. Maybe his teenager daughter is too quick to show her friends the stockpiles when they come over after school. These seem like small things, but they could lead to major compromises that sink your operation.
Think about it this way… if you were to fall over dead, who would you trust to take care of your spouse and your kids? Those people (and there are probably only a handful) are the only ones that you should consider as prepping partners.
How do you handle this prepper dilemma? Do you plan to work together with neighbors and local partners or are you going to try to make it on your own?