Head In Sand

Preparing the Unprepared: 5 Ways To Help Your Loved Ones

Photo Credit: Peter Werkman via Flickr

Many of us have loved ones who are rigidly unprepared. To us, they seem to have their heads in the sand and anytime you share with them what you are doing and where you are with your preps, they roll their eyes (figuratively, if not literally) and bury their heads even deeper.

We worry for them. We pray for them. We want to help.

I’m not saying, by any means, to give up discussing becoming prepared with loved ones. An honest-to-goodness discussion is always the best, but if that’s just not working, trying a different approach just might open some doors. You may be the kind of person that responds to challenges head-on, but not everyone is the same way. The light that turned on for you and  originally motivated you to take action and become a “prepper” or “survivalist” may cause another person to become  petrified into denial and inaction.

Outside of an honest, straightforward conversation on the topic, what can a prepared person do for those he or she loves? Here’s 5 ideas to consider:

1. Shut up about it already.

They aren’t buying what you’re selling, and if you find that they bury their heads even deeper when you discuss TEOTWAWKI or post-SHTF with them, then it’s time to stop. Stop sending them news articles, stop talking politics, stop talking about the canned ham and pinto beans. You’re scaring them. And some folks respond to being scared by retreating instead of confronting what’s scaring them to make it better. You don’t want to make it worse. Instead, try #2.

2. Tread lightly by only discussing easy-to-envision threats.

After you’ve given sufficient time with #1, and you feel it’s safe to talk about being prepared again, do so in safer terms. There’s a very real threat of a major earthquake, tornado, or hurricane (or all 3) at any time in any part of the world. Talk about being prepared for a likely natural disaster in your area. Discuss basics like first aid kits and water. This is all especially helpful to discuss in the wake of a crisis, such as a hurricane like Sandy. But tread lightly and don’t stay in conversation too long, as it could go back to TEOTWAWKI too fast.

3. Prepare for them.

If you care enough about them that should the SHTF, that you’d never turn them away when they are in need, quietly include them in your preparations. Don’t tell them about it: you can still hold out the hope that at some point, they’ll understand and become prepared themselves. But if it comes down to it, your year’s supply of food in your storage won’t last if you don’t include those who you can’t turn away. So prepare food in long-term storage for them. At least you can all eat beans and rice together.

4. Turn prepping into playing.

Do you have a brother who likes to shoot guns? Get some ammo and treat him to some range time. Do you have a sister-in-law who enjoys canning? Plan a day of canning – you bring the produce, and together, you can can up a lot of goodies. Have some playtime with the kids by making some root beer from scratch (I love this root beer kit). Some other areas you can enjoy together as “non-prepper” hobbies: gardening, self-defense, knitting, sewing, making  beer and wine, cheese-making, etc.

5. Give them a clever “gift” to help them see the happy side of preparedness

For me, “prepping” is mostly a happy way of life. I feel less stressed because with every skill or “prep” my family acquires, we’re safer and more secure. Your loved ones don’t know this happiness yet. So share it with them in the form of a gift. Give them a case of something yummy for their birthday or for a holiday. If your loved ones are big coffee drinkers, get them a boatload of coffee – like 6 months worth (this is my favorite coffee to stock). If they like chocolate, get them a case or two of it. Let them enjoy that feeling of having a stockpile of something they enjoy, and with any luck, they next time they need coffee, they’ll ask you “hey, I’m getting down to my last bit of coffee – where did you get that case of it you got me for my birthday?” instead of running out to the store for a pound.

Show your loved ones the happiness of being prepared, and they’ll be more likely to start coming along for the wild ride we all seem to be on. It doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom; there is real pleasure and peace-of-mind in being prepared.

For some more ideas on how to give a “prepper” gift to a non-prepper, check out my recent article on gifting – I think I’ve finally figured out how to do this successfully. This article is geared toward the cooks (or eaters!) in your life. Stay tuned, a more general list of gift ideas is coming up.

Now it’s your turn! Have you successfully helped a loved one who was once totally unprepared? How did you do it?

Please share and help us all.


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    • Echo
    • September 21, 2013

    i am in slow prep mode. have been buying books of, well i will say primitive skills, kits and instructions on how to make footwear, how to knit (i really need hands on teaching there!) i already know how to crochet thankfully. just last night i ordered a mixed case of survival meat and a two week supply of prepared survival meals to try. i’ve gone camping for years so i have all the basics for tent camping, ie. camp stove, lanterns, portable grill, tents and sleeping bags. so short term i’m not to bad off. long term is were, i’m not really floundering, but slow to get going.

    it’s funny tho. but in a way my son got me started on this adventure. but while i’ve been slowly prepping he was not. so i kinda got after him and reminded him of the wicked bad snowstorm we had here in TN when he was in his teens. we were without electricity for little over a week. he has all the basics for camping, stove and a couple of lanterns i’ve have purchased for or given him. he has his own tent and sleeping bags. but he is now finally stock piling food items. plus his girlfriend and family are avid canners so that will be a very good thing. and he has gotten his girlfriend into tent camping and she loves it!

    now, i just wish i could get a few close friends to start prepping and i would be much happier!!

    1. Hi Echo!

      Thanks for sharing your experience. You are not alone! I’m here for you. 🙂

    • laura m.
    • August 23, 2013

    I know older people who prepared for y2k who refuse to prepare now except for a several weeks weather crisis. Money was wasted on items (coffee pots, wood stoves, water filters, etc.) and food storage that ended up being donated after nothing happened. As for loved ones and close friends, I would say bad weather preparation is a must, to incl first aid kits, extra water containers, food, etc. Those into long term prepping, should remain quiet, low key and not tell anyone incl other relatives or close friends. Every adult is responsible for their immediate family, no one else is. No one can tell/make others do what they aren’t willing to do. These things should remain private and not blabbed all over town, since others could be a threat if things fell apart.

    1. Hi Laura,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment! Rotating stock is the key element here that so many overlook. We eat out of our pantry daily, so it is a way of life for us and for many “preppers”. You are so right, you cannot tell others what to do – but I am hoping that we can perhaps help open some eyes a bit.

      Keep coming with your insightful comments! Thank you!


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