What to Do When You Aren’t Prepared?
by Frank from Texas
As preppers, we all know people, whether family or friends, who do not prepare for emergencies. Some people blame their lack of preparation on a lack of finances. Others may have the belief that the government will take care of them should something catastrophic occur. Some believe that reliance on God means that there is no need to store up essentials for emergency situations (and/or that God would provide those things to them should an emergency actually occur.) There are also a few who believe they can just steal needed supplies from others if the situation warrants. For the non-prepper, times will be exceedingly difficult should catastrophe suddenly occur in their area. If we prepper do not have enough resources to aid a family member or friend by giving food or supplies to them, what could we advise them to do the moment that the world disintegrates around them?
The first thing I would advise my non-prepper family and friends to do is to pray. As a Christian, my faith is tied to Jesus Christ; I believe that God can and will deliver us through distress. That does not mean that we would not be cast in the fiery furnace, but He is willing to walk with us through the flames (see chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel in the Bible.) Prayer is very important because it allows us to submit to God, talk with Him about those things that are happening in our lives, as well as to prepare ourselves to be directed by Him. Prayer does not have to be complex; Jesus even advises us to use simple words when we pray. Prayer may not cause a package of goods to instantly arrive at your door (though God can and sometimes will deliver miracles in ways we would never expect) but it does show God that you place your trust in Him to guide you during these times.
You will want to account for all those who are in your household. Communication may be problematic or impossible due to system overload or failure in cellular or landline systems. Sometimes, texting may work, at least on a delayed basis, whereas a voice conversation may fail. Try any and all means of communication you have available until you exhaust your options. Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to wait until a loved one is accounted for.
The next piece of advice I would give is to not steal or commit crimes. Though you need to find food and supplies for your family, helping them through a crisis may not be possible if you are in handcuffs or on the wrong end of a 12-guage shotgun. People who have the things you want during such times most likely have the means to protect their possessions. Preppers especially would be on guard for persons who are desperate enough to try and take the things they have worked hard to gather. Police presence, which could include military and/or private security forces, would have no problem making an example of people that choose to commit such a crime.
The most important thing to obtain, if possible, is as much cash as you can get. Without a functioning power grid, ATMs will probably not work. A bank holiday or severe bank run would make getting cash from banks nearly impossible. If your debit or credit card is not being accepted, cash becomes king. Most places may not accept checks or IOUs, especially if there are questions as to the stability of the dollar or banking system. Where and how can someone obtain cash under these circumstances? There may be few, if any sources of cash available, but pawn shops and bartering probably would be your best bets. Be prepared to take a severe beating on the cash amount that you may receive, especially if the things you have to pawn or barter are not very useful during emergency situations. Gold and silver items probably would gain the most in trade. Do not trade in your food supplies unless you get a larger number of food supplies in return.
You should then look to find sources of food and water. Many people do not have enough of these essentials to last them throughout a time of emergency. When storms, power outages, and other catastrophes occur, these are the items that are cleared out of the grocery stores first. If I were shopping during a time as this, I would steer clear of grocery stores and “big box” retailers (such as Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes, and Home Depot.) The potential for violence, crime, and the goods you need being sold out is too great, especially if your area has a large population or has a great number of desperate people willing to do anything for those items. Instead, I would shop at places that most people would not think to go first. For example, there is a discount clothing store within walking distance that also sells kitchen goods. Among the kitchen goods are cooking oils, mixes for bread, various snack foods, and water filters. These items do not conform to my normal all natural/organic diet, but they can keep me and my family from starvation in the short term. Another clothing and furniture store in my area carries similar items. The pet store down the highway has bottled water and snacks for sale near the cash registers. The local office supply store carries canisters of snack foods and large containers of water. If you can go to other types of stores instead of grocery or mass merchandise retailers, you may have a greater chance of coming away with some materials to feed and hydrate your family.
Depending on the area you live in, you may have access to a body of water. Be careful; the lakes or streams that appear to have clear blue water may be contaminated with toxins, heavy metals, or undesirable organisms that may not necessarily go away with boiling or chlorine. If you do not have the right filtration available, consider the potentially contaminated water for other uses, such as toileting. Believe it or not, the water from your toilet tank may be more suitable for drinking (after treatment by boiling or chlorine) than the lake or stream water. Consider other hidden sources of water in your home as well, such as the hot water heater.
Obtaining information on the situation at hand is a necessity. When “The End of the World as We Know It” (TEOTWAWKI) occurs, most people will have no idea what has happened, or who or what is responsible for what had occurred. . Do not become one that stays in a daze when the unexpected occurs. Find as many sources of information as you can. Local media sources (television and radio) can advise you on places where aid could be received (such as churches, charitable organizations, or even a FEMA drop point if the government cares to deliver supplies to your area.) Mainstream media could give information on the crisis from a national or global perspective. I would expect the national networks to either skew the news or outright lie in their coverage. Believe it or not, mainstream sources have an agenda that often does not have your best interest in mind. Though few people have them nowadays, if your radio can receive broadcasts on the shortwave band (or you know someone with a shortwave radio,) try to seek information through those broadcasts. Many shortwave broadcasts are independent of this government (or any government) and can give you various perspectives as on national and world events. Some, but not all, alternative news and “conspiracy theory” programs more accurately portray news and information than the mainstream sources that you are used to.
Talking to your neighbors can also help you find out local information that is not advertised. Be careful of the rumor mill; a few years ago, this led to a crowd in my area that awaited “free” generators in a parking lot. The truck that arrived carried nothing of the sort. The crowd that waited for several hours in intense heat went home with nothing to show for their efforts.
Be careful of crime. Just because you may not be stealing from your neighbors does not mean that others abide by that moral standard. If you do go out and about, never go alone. Stay with someone who is armed, if possible. I personally would not leave my wife and children alone at home, unless it was during the day and my wife was well armed. If you do not have firearms, get as much defensive equipment as possible. Kitchen knives, baseball bats, tire irons, and homemade slapjacks (i.e., heavy objects inside of a sock) can help defend against some attackers. Maintain awareness of the environment around you. Do not go in areas that you are not familiar with. Keep a low profile and never discuss any information that can put you at risk (such as supplies you may have at home.)
Honestly, not being prepared for an emergency is as difficult a situation to be in as any. Your standard of living will be much lower than what is comfortable. Try to remain positive and grounded. Take time to grow closer to God and to your family. Spend time together; your family will rely upon your strength and confidence while the world around you crumbles. Do not despair about what you do not have. Despair will not improve or remedy your situation. People have survived these situations throughout the ages and it is possible that you will get through it as well. Never give up, despite the circumstances!