One of the major issues that preppers talk about a lot is the best strategies to deal with all those people who are not prepared for a SHTF event. If you try too hard to get others to wake up to the importance of prepping, you can be labeled as obsessive or crazy. And yet, most preppers know that one of the biggest dangers they will face during and after a post-economic collapse or other grid down situation is people who are hungry and desperate to feed their families because they didn’t prepare.
If you’re truly worried about other family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who you feel won’t be prepared when the time comes, you can try to impress upon them how important it is to start preparing. This is something that has to be done carefully and gradually so that you aren’t seen as “that crazy prepper”. If they think you’re obsessed and paranoid about prepping, they will simply tune you out and your pleas will fall on deaf ears.
One thing you can do that is somewhat subtle is to get family members, friends, or even neighbors to watch some of the best survival movies and TV shows which may gradually introduce the idea of being prepared for emergencies. Don’t force your family and friends to watch a survival movie every week, that would be way too obvious. But introducing a TV series like Revolution or a movie like San Andreas is good entertainment and gives you a chance to subtly comment how quickly things can go wrong, how the need for emergency communications can come up suddenly, etc.
The other thing you can do is to have your own preps ready and use them whenever the opportunity arises. When your cousin can’t get that ridiculous crazy plastic packaging open on his newest toy or your friend cuts his hand using the saw at work, you can come to the rescue with your EDC knife or mini first aid kit. These kinds of everyday rescues can give you the chance to demonstrate in real time how great it is to be prepared for the unexpected things that come up all the time.
The third thing you can do right now, pre-collapse with people who aren’t prepared, is to help spread the word about existing emergency planning for your community. Find out where the tornado shelters are or which buildings in and around town are earthquake resistant and make sure people know about them. Tell people when there is a first aid, CPR, or other course being held in the area. Share information when it comes out about evacuation plans for your local school district to make sure people are aware of it. You can’t control whether or not people participate but you can make them aware.
As far as sharing information about what you are doing to prep, it’s not a good idea to share those details with other people unless they are people you know you can trust. Just because your neighbor chats with you over the hedge now and then, doesn’t mean that he is trustworthy enough when SHTF not to come and take your preps to feed his own family. Be cautious even with co-workers and friends.
During and Post SHTF Strategies
We all have neighbors, co-workers, friends, and even relatives who we know will not be prepared when the time comes. And there are bound to be many strangers who aren’t prepared either. In a post collapse situation, all of these people will run out of food quickly and be looking for ways to feed themselves and their families.
As a parent, wouldn’t you do whatever you had to do to keep your children fed? These desperate people will act in ways they wouldn’t normally act because they and their children will be hungry and thirsty, maybe even starving.
The “best strategies” to deal with these people who are unprepared, some preppers refer to them as “zombies”, is one issue that divides many preppers. There are four main categories when it comes to strategies for dealing with people who are unprepared before, during, and post-collapse.
Option #1 Defend It with Guns
Just shoot them. A major portion of preppers are of the opinion that dealing with people who are unprepared to feed themselves and their families is really not their problem. Their strategy consists mainly of using force when necessary to keep people away and to defend their stockpile. Preppers who are convinced this is the best strategy for them are gearing up by stockpiling guns, ammunition, and other security measures.
The main downside with this strategy is that the sheer numbers of people who could descend on your property all within hours or days of each other could be massive. In rural areas, you may be better off for a little while but anyone close to the major cities could simply be unable to defend against crowds of hungry desperate people. If you are going to rely on this strategy, make sure you have a method for making more ammunition post-SHTF.
Option #2 Share with Others
Feed anyone who shows up and then send them on their way. There are many preppers who believe the best strategy for them will be to just feed people who show up and send them on their way. Many preppers in this group may be unrealistic about how long a post-SHTF situation can last and how many people will show up asking for food and supplies. They also may not be prepared for the fact that like a stray cat, once you feed these desperate people, they will just keep coming back again and again.
Stockpile extra supplies so you can feed people and then send them away with a care package to get them through a little while. There are a lot of preppers who realize that there will be people who haven’t prepared adequately and so they are stockpiling extra food and supplies so that they will “have extra” to feed people who come to them desperate and hungry.
This strategy might work in the short term if you have a lot of extra supplies stored up. However, there will never really be “extra” because anything you give away could end up being the difference between life and death for your own family later when your own stockpile runs out. Plus, as word gets out that you are feeding people and giving away supplies, you will have more people at your door than you can help. And some of those people who hear about you might just decide to take what you have.
Grow extra food in a section of your garden and anyone who comes begging can help themselves from that area. This is a combination strategy that many preppers feel might work better than just giving people food. Sure it’s more work to plant it initially, but if you let hungry people pick their own food, it’s not more work for you.
This strategy could work because a lot of people are decent human beings and once they are able to feed their children, they may move on. But again, those not so decent human beings might decide that your entire garden is something they have a right to for their family. And there’s also a possibility that a horde of people could come through within several days and they will move on to your section of the garden when the “shared” section is picked bare.
Accept people into your group. There is an entire subgroup of preppers who believe strongly that the more numbers of people they have in their group, the stronger they are and the more the workload can be divided. This group of preppers are willing, and in some cases planning, to accept unprepared people into their own group and make them allies so they contribute to the group going forward. In addition to stockpiling extra supplies, they are even including guest sleeping space, etc. in their preparations.
The problem with this strategy is that group survival is not just about numbers. It’s about the skills that you have within the group and it’s about leadership and trust. People have diverse personalities and values. The more people you have in your group the stronger leadership you will need. Larger groups are good because the workload is shared and you have help when it comes to defending your property, but larger groups also use up limited resources like medicines, much more quickly.
The real challenge with this strategy though is you just never know what people will do when times are tough, especially people you don’t know well. You could end up assimilating someone or several people into your group that will run off when you need them the most or worse turn on you and take over and put you and your family out with nothing.
Option #3 Hide It
Use “decoy” supplies in the kitchen cupboards or out in the open. Keep the rest of your main stockpile well hidden in separate places all over your property and BOL. Many preppers plan for stockpiling include this strategy. They will hide most of their food in well-hidden places, under beds, behind fake walls, under furniture, etc. If someone raids their home and empties the cupboards and pantry, they may not find all of the hidden supplies. But if intruders are very persistent and thorough in searching, or are a prepper themselves who knows where to look for hidden supplies, it could mean trouble.
Keep garden plants hidden from view behind a fence, behind tall shrubs, in among flower gardens to make them less noticeable. If people passing by cannot immediately see that a food garden, they may just keep going to the next house. This is a good strategy that will probably keep some people from ravaging your food garden. It won’t really stop anyone who is persistent and comes up onto your property to “check things out”.
Plant some wild edible plants along the edge of the road and hope that people will eat those instead of approaching you for your stuff. This is another decent strategy that could work to keep some people away. It won’t work for those who don’t recognize wild plants as edible or for those people who are very persistent and will take the time to come up and inspect your property for what else you may have.
Plant edible landscaping that isn’t recognizable as food. Make your landscaping edible so it will appear like just your way of decorating your property. Some people will walk right by edible plants and not even realize they are edible. This is actually a good strategy because in the event that someone does raid all of your regular canned food and supplies, you will still have your edible landscaping to get by. Only really hard core preppers and survivalists will know to even look for edible landscaping.
Creating a food forest is a complex endeavor to get started the first year, but since it just looks like wild overgrowth, it pays off because very few people will even look there for food. A food forest can be in your backyard or at the edge of your yard. It looks wild and messy and overgrown when done correctly. It doesn’t need much maintenance at all so it’s rare that people will see you tending to it and know it’s there pre-SHTF.
And if you want to, you can even plant your annual vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and other stuff in amongst the food forest where it is barely recognizable. Sure if someone decides to cut through the forest behind your house they may find your food, but most people will stick to the roads as much as possible. And as long as you have guns, you can defend against a few people here and there who might stumble upon it.
Option #4 Stay Mobile
There are some preppers who believe they can just stay mobile and out of sight or reach from the crowds of hungry people. These are your hard core preppers. Many of them are really experienced in survivalist skills and feel confident that they can travel light and live off the land no matter where they are. This is a good strategy but only for a very limited number of people. Not everyone has the skills, stamina, and mental fortitude that it would take to live off the land, constantly moving around, for weeks, months, or years at a time.
For those relying on this strategy, you must be able to live with very little resources, carrying only what you absolutely cannot replicate in the wilderness. You must be in top physical condition, know how to treat yourself for various illnesses and traumas that you could face and be able to survive off wild edibles and the ever dwindling supply of wild animals. It’s definitely not a strategy for those who have never done it and have just read about it or watched instructional videos on YouTube.
It would seem that there’s really no guaranteed strategy for dealing with those people that are unprepared and who may arrive on your doorstep hungry and desperate. Perhaps the best solution for you will be a combination of several of the above strategies. Consider your individual needs, your own levels of fitness and security, and create a strategy that you feel will work the best.
Do you have a different strategy for dealing with unprepared people? Tell us about it in the comments below.