31 July 2011

Six tips on being discrete in your preparedness

I'm a long-time reader of Dilbert by Scott Adams. While I almost always find the comic strip funny, Sunday's was both funny and insightful:


While meant as a joke, this is all too possible if you talk freely about your preparedness plans. As you put aside supplies for emergency use, consider the following:
  • Discretion is key: As shown in the above cartoon, be cautious about who you talk to about your preparedness plans. Anyone who knows that you have supplies set aside may well remember that in times of emergency. The more people that know about your preparedness, the more you can expect on your doorstep. You have an obligation to provide for your immediate family, so remember that "loose lips [can] sink ships." While being able to help others in a disaster is morally right, it will be impossible for you to help everyone.

  • Consider your surroundings: Be aware of who's watching you bring supplies into your home. When you get home from the store, wait to unload the 10 cases of water if there are a lot of people in the area.

  • Moderation is important: Consider buying smaller quantities over time. Buying two or three cases of water is not that unusual. Buying 10, 20, or higher quantities is more memorable. If you come across such a good deal that you have to buy larger quantities, at least unload them over time. Take a few in the house, then go back later and unload more.

  • Store food appropriately: Don't make your food storage preparations obvious, wherever possible. For example, your food storage should ideally be in a cool, dry location that is out of the way. If your ideal food storage location is in a frequently trafficked area of your home, try to camouflage the supplies, as shown in this can rack video:

  • Don't be obvious with your storage: The same is true for any of your stored supplies beyond food; try to keep things at the ready, but not in a way that screams "here are a bunch of supplies for the taking." If you have extra fuel, keep it safely under cover and out of the way. Do you have a couple cords of firewood? Keep the bulk of it out of the way, e.g., behind a garage or shed.

  • Keep things secured: All of the above will help with security, but don't forget obvious things like secured covers, doors, gates, and/or padlocks. Keeping these devices in place and appropriately locked will keep the "casual observer" or other curious person out of your supplies.

Following the above will help you keep your preparedness supplies ready for when you and your family need them. It will also make the materials last longer. This will give you some measure of control, and afford you more choice in how you can share your supplies and help others.

After all, the point of preparedness and self-reliance is not to be isolationist. Ultimately, the point of these activities is for each of us to make it through the emergency and ultimately ensure that society continues. Certainly, our obligation is first and foremost to our families, but we also have some moral commitment to our neighbors and community too.

In what ways have you practiced discretion in your preparedness? Who have you shared your plans with, if anyone?

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