In the Prepper community there is something preached to new preppers referred to as OPSEC (Operational Security). This belief is that you keep your mouth shut about your prepping; no one should know. This is to prevent people from coming to you during a SHTF scenario because they thought you were silly for prepping, but now they know you have stuff. Problem with this mentality is that you will be alone or at best with your family and since the average family in America is 3 people that’s not many. It will take more than that to fetch water, guard the house, tend to the garden, cook, clean, and all of the other chores to survive. So you really have to talk with your neighbors if possible, for your survival.
There are several potential advantages of talking to the neighbors about being prepared. As I was saying about numbers. More people mean more available man power. More man power can get things done quicker than a few. You can also share resources, knowledge….you may have a neighbor that is a mechanic or herbalist which can be useful knowledge to have. Having additional people will help greatly for security purposes also. The old saying “there is strength in numbers” is not a lie, but you will need to hand pick the numbers as best you can.
To be fair there are several potential disadvantages of talking to the neighbors and letting them into your prepper circle also. They will know that you have supplies if things go sideways and will likely know you have weapons in the house. In some parts of the world your neighbors knowing you have guns is not a good thing. If they are not themselves prepared they now know someone who is. If you have talkative neighbors it will get all over the neighborhood that you have supplies for the apocalypse. It can be difficult and you may not have any neighbors worth talking to, but it might pay off to at least look, and at least you’ll know.
When deciding if you should talk to your neighbors look at them and their home; I mean really look. What I have listed below are some clues you might look out for to gauge a potentially helpful/harmful neighbor.
- Pay attention to the vehicles. If they drive a Prius, likely says…not a prepper. They drive a truck, Jeep, or SUV…possibly, especially if their dirty a lot from mud. If they have stickers on their vehicles they can tell you a lot also. Club memberships, hobbies, and other things.
- You look into their backyard and you see a vegetable or herb garden……good sign.
- The neighbor is always talking and seems to know what’s going on in the whole neighborhood…..not a good sign.
- Has a large antenna for HAM use, good sign.
- You see them packing for camping trips……possibility.
- Doesn’t get outside their house much, except to mow…….neutral. There are many people preparing, that are stocking up on food and ammo, but lack the outside exercise of gardening and such.
- Do they take care of their home? Based upon my experiences, a person that doesn’t up keep their home is likely not concerned about up keeping themselves, now or in the future.
So you’ve looked the neighbor over and decided there is enough of a possibility to speak to them.
- First big problem is talking to them. I don’t know about you, but not many of my neighbors come outside except to get in their vehicle. Which as stated, may not be a good sign. You’ve decided based on other factors to proceed though. If you can catch them outside, just strike up a conversation. I say this like it’s a piece of cake, and I know some find this more difficult than others, but it’s the only way to communicate.
- Start with something common to everyone……there’s a reason talking about the weather is a thing. From there move onto other discussions, like maybe food prices at the grocery…..boy there getting expensive. If they agree see if that can move into a gardening discussion.
- What you’re looking for is common themes, kind of like a checklist. For example….If they like firearms, hunting, backpacking, canning, gardening and other things along this line…..you may have a prepper neighbor. Be aware that you may have to give a little to get a little. Don’t blurt out you’re a prepper, but that you also enjoy firearms, or camping for example. You can also come at it from an “I’ve been thinking about it angle”. I’ve been thinking about gardening…..you?
- So you have now determined that you have a neighbor who could be a prepper. Get to know them better, like their personality. They may like all of those things, but not store anything or worse they are fully aware and plan on taking from others if needed. There are people that plan to do this based upon statements on the web. Of course it is the web so take it with a grain of salt.
- If you feel all is good then you can broach the subject and hope for the best.
- If any of the lead up goes sideways, no harm has been done and at least you know where your neighbor stands.
One of the best ways to get to know neighbors is through neighborhood social media. The Nextdoor App is a good way to get to know your neighbors without talking to them. I know this sounds a little “stalkerish”, but it is an easy way to gather information, which makes it easier to strike up a conversation. Many people like to list their hobbies so you have an advanced heads up how to start a conversation. I wouldn’t tell them you stalked them on Nextdoor though, might sound a little creepy.
I’ve heard of many neighborhoods that have a Facebook page. Everyone knows Facebook whether we like it or not, so sign up. Pay attention to the conversations there and see how it goes. You could also throw some feelers out there like “Thinking about starting a garden and was wondering if anyone had any advice for this area”. Of course I wouldn’t do this if you don’t really need it, but you get what I’m saying.
Throughout time a very small percentage of people have managed to live a solitary lifestyle, and those still had to “come to town” once in a while. Humans were created for a community existence and that will not change if something should go really sideways. While you can’t pick your neighbors, you can at least get to know them so you have an idea where they stand if it does go sideways.
Stay active, pay attention, and get prepared.