9 Simple Ways for Preppers to Be a Good Neighbor

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I have written many times about the importance of community and neighbors when it comes to long term survival.  Last year I wrote:

There is no question about it.  I am a some-times recluse.  I enjoy my home, my dog and my little family of two and can go for days without talking to anyone else outside these four walls.  Given a choice of staying home and watching a classic period piece on TV or going to a party with dozens of people, well, the choice for me is clear.

Yet from time to time, it feels good to be a social butterfly.  Get me out on the dance floor or at a small gathering and I will bloom and shine.  And so it is.  We as humans crave our privacy while at the same time we long for the intensiveness of a satisfying social experience.

So how do we find the right balance, especially when it comes to living the preparedness lifestyle?  On the one hand we need to feel secure that our “stuff” is safe and that our painstakingly gathered preps will be there for our use when and if we need them.  On the other hand, we need to defend ourselves, our homes and our loved ones from physical harm.  Is this something we can do on our own in isolation or would we be better served with some help?

The dilemma we face, as always, is how to protect ourselves and our stuff while still having a synergistic relationship with the folks nearby; a relationship where we can watch each others backs and be supportive in times of need.

WHAT IS A NEIGHBORHOOD?

These days, neighborhoods are global.  We are linked together by the internet, email, Facebook, Twitter and cell phones.  Yet for prepping purposes, the neighborhood and the neighbors that count are those close by. They are the neighbors on your street and in close proximity to your home.

RH Street Where I live Sep 2012

Wikipedia has a definition of neighborhoods that I particularly like:

A neighborhood  is a geographically localized community within a larger city, town or suburb. Neighborhoods are often social communities with considerable face-to-face interaction among members. “Researchers have not agreed on an exact definition. Neighborhood is generally defined spatially as a specific geographic area and functionally as a set of social networks. Neighborhoods, then, are the spatial units in which face-to-face social interactions occur – the personal settings and situations where residents seek to realize common values, socialize youth, and maintain effective social control.”

The best of such communities are those where the individuals have taken the time to get to know each other by learning each other’s names, sharing emergency contact numbers and agreeing to look out for each other.  This can be as simple as checking on neighbors after a storm, flood or power outage or as complex as have a well-organized block watch that will descend upon bad guys targeting the the streets after dark.

Okay you say, that sounds good but my neighbor is a beer guzzling jerk and I want nothing to do with him.

Fine.  Like family, you can not always pick your neighbors and again, like family, you may not even like them.  But that does not mean you should not nod a hello from time to time.  After all, this very same neighbor may be the one to call the cops when he sees a prowler or the fire department when he sees unusual smoke coming from your home.  That said, it does not mean that you need to become friends or invite them for dinner.  Just a friendly hello from the front porch or parking lot may be all that it takes to have an extra set of eyes watching your back.

Today I would like to share nine ideas that will help you get to know your neighbors and also how to become (or stay) a good neighbor.  As you read through them, you will realize that most are really just good, common sense.  If you are like me though, you sometimes need to be reminded that simple things done in the short term can pay huge dividends in the long term.  Being a good neighbor is one of those things.

9 SIMPLE WAYS TO BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR

1.  Welcome newbies to the neighborhood

When I was first married and moved into my first real house, a neighbor came by with a plate of brownies. I put on a pot of coffee and we chatted a bit and exchanged phone numbers.  Two things happened.  One, I became a friendly and familiar face in the hood, so to speak, and two, I had a number of someone close by to call in an emergency.

In this case, we never became friends in the traditional sense but we knew each other well enough to say hello when we were out working in our yards and of course, were able to know who and recognize who belonged next door and who did not.

Welcoming newbies to the neighborhood can be as simple and easy as taking over a bunch of flowers or baking up that batch of proverbial brownies or chocolate chip cookies.

2.  Lend a hand

Have you ever seen a neighbor struggle with a big pile of leaves or a mound of dirt?  Or perhaps you catch the neighbor trying to bring bags of groceries indoors while the little kiddos are running around as kids ten to do.  Think about politely offering to help out.  Just remember, though, if they say no, accept that.  They will still remember your kindness and may reciprocate down the road sometime.

3.  Set boundaries

No one like a nosy neighbor.  Just like you would prefer not to disclose the details or in-home location of your prepping activities and supplies, remember that you too must be respectful of your neighbors privacy and private matters.  Keep your goal in mind.  That goal is to have someone watch your back and to help you out if a disaster strikes and you are in worse shape than they are.

4.  Keep it quiet

I can not imagine Backdoor Survival readers being a rowdy bunch but you never know.  Cut the noise and loud music at 10PM and don’t start up again until 8 or 9 in the morning. Also, if you plan to have a shouting match with your partner, do it indoors with the windows closed.  ‘Nuff said.

5.  Keep it clean

Part of being a good neighbor means keeping the visible part of your home neat and tidy.  Keep the lawn mowed and the bushes trimmed.  Which reminds me: keeping the shrubs and bushes around your windows and doors well-trimmed will mitigate bad guys using them as hiding places prior to breaking and entering.

Also pick up any junk that may be lying around. This includes discarded planters, garbage (really!) and cardboard boxes that belong in recycle and not on your front porch.  Somewhat related is this:  make sure you pick up any dog poo that little Fido drops around the neighborhood on his walks.

6. Do not judge

Most of us keep our prepping activities to ourselves for fear of being labeled a crazy nut job.  For many, even our own families know little about our activities.  Likewise, park any judgmental attitudes about your neighbor at the door.  As difficult as it may be sometimes, your business is your business and his business is his.  There may be family or financial issues going on with your neighbor that you may not know of and further, you may not need to know.

Give it a rest and do your best not to judge.

7. Nip little problems in the bud

As with all things in life, nip little problems in the bud.  Number 4 was “Keep it quiet”.  If your neighbor has loud, pulsating music blasting at 1AM, you may want give him a call and ask him to turn it down.  Because alcohol may be involved, I would not recommend marching up to his door and demanding that things quite down.

A better alternative is to wait until the next day and explain that the noise kept you awake and that next time, could they turn the music down a bit earlier?

The same things applies with a lawn that has not been mowed in weeks and is knee high in weeds.  This is a problem in the prowlers may hang around, thinking the place is uninhabited.  Check on your neighbor to make sure he is okay (you know, not sick or anything) and see if you can lend him an hour or your time to help him get things cleaned up.

Always remember, too, that it is a lot more difficult for someone to continue with their disturbing behavior if you have met them face to face (remember those brownies?) and shared a friendly “hello” now and then.

8.  Never confront neighbors in anger or threaten

Never ever confront a neighbor in a state of anger. And most certainly do not threaten.  This always applies, but it’s even more important if you haven’t already established a relationship with him or her.  Instead, think it out and come up with a way to discuss the problem without putting your neighbor on the defensive.

Pick a time to talk when you are calm and try to focus less on blame and more on the solution.

9.  If all else fails, call in the authorities

There may come a time when things get out of control. As you are trying to nip little problems in the bud, your neighbor may display violent or irrational behavior.  If you are feeling personally threatened, then by all means call in the authorities and let them know.  The last thing you want is to endanger yourself or your family while simply trying to be a good neighbor.

THE FINAL WORD

Over and over again, I have witnessed communities coming together in times of need.  The recent fire in my own community demonstrated how neighbors helping neighbors can come together to prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

Today I want to remind you that being prepared is a lifestyle that involves much more that storing food, preserving water, and learning to use firearms.  Being prepared means having the tools and the where-with-all to face life and all of its hazards and impediments head-on and without hesitation.

Having neighbors you can count on is one of those tools but it all starts, really, with being a good neighbor yourself.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye

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Bargain Bin: Couple being a good neighbor and with strong primary defenses and you have a winning combination. Here are some items to consider as you build up your fortress.

Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: This light is awesome. I use mine downstairs as well as on my stairway and when I get up in the middle of the night, they come on automatically. They are quite unobtrusive and give off a ton of light.  Runs for a year on 3 D size batteries. About $20.

Uniden Bearcat 200-Channel Portable Scanner: A hand scanner with ham band for less than $100. Very portable.

Midland 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios: These are the handheld radios that I own. There are lots of good uses for the these radios. Handy while hiking, traveling, or simply keeping in touch with your partner while out shopping. They have a 36 mile range and are waterproof – qualities that I feel are important. Plus, in addition to using the included rechargeable batteries, they can use regular AAs in a pinch.

Two-Way Radios and Scanners For Dummies: I will say it again.  Yes, I love these books for “dummies” even though I actually think I am quite smart.

Sabre Family Home & Property Protection Pepper Spray:  This small fire extinguisher-style pepper spray delivers a strong blast covering an entire doorway. Offering extremely practical protection, SABRE provides distance from your threat with its 30 foot range.  I like that it includes a wall mount.  About $36.

Security Decals – 4 Pack: Security surveillance camera system warning decals/stickers. Increase security whether you have a system or not -no one will know but you. Less than $10.

Motorola FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios: Another option to consider. There are lots of good uses for the these radios. Handy while hiking, traveling, or simply keeping in touch with your partner while out shopping.

Keypad Deadbolt: Need a good strong lock? With this, you will never have to worry about locking yourself out plus, you can secure the deadbolt from inside the house.


Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials

The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.

We all know that we should store what we eat and eat what we store.  In my own household, that means that we try to cook from our food storage pantry – not only the dried foods and canned goods that I have purchased from the grocery or Costco, but more esoteric items such as freeze-dried fruits and vegetables.

If you are long on intent but short on imagination, go to the Food Storage Recipes page of Emergency Essentials for lots of creative (and free) ideas for using the good you have on hand.

Provident Pantry Vegetable Favorites Combo (6 cans) FNC965

One of the star sale items this month is the FD Vegetable Combo which is on sale for $33% off.  The combination is a perfect mix of spinach, corn, broccoli, green onions, peas and tomatoes.  Most of these ingredients will be perfect for a minestrone soup don’t you think?

In addition, all Mountain House cans are 25% off with some select items at 29% off.  For my own food storage, I ordered the Mountain House® Sweet & Sour Pork with Rice plus the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Slices and Buttermilk Biscuit Mix.

I have a monthly budget and each month I add a bit more FD products to my long term storage.

Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials


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11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life: This little book will provide you with the motivation to get started or stay on track with a self-reliant life. 11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life, co-authored with my long time pal, George Ure (www.urbansurvival.com), and can purchased from Amazon.




Comments

9 Simple Ways for Preppers to Be a Good Neighbor — 10 Comments

  1. Hey Gaye! Thanks for sharing this helpful advice. This month I am moving with my wife in our first house, outside the city and I am a bit concerned of how we would make it there- people seemed friendly from what we could see and I hope we can build the positive relations that you describe in your post. Thanks for mentioning the need of certain boundaries and accepting a refuse easy not as a sign of rejection.

    • I am so glad that this article was timely for you. Just thinking about it, if the neighbors do not bring the brownies to you, you can bring the brownies to them! Good luck with the move.

      — Gaye

  2. My Wife and I learned to be both pridefull and concerned about our neighbourhood following Hurricane IKE. Imediately after the storm we all came out and had all the debris cleaned up and ready for pick up within an hour. However the concern started about 3 days into the storm aftermath. Most of my neighbours were out of food, or a way to cook it if they had it. Some never checked to see if their natural gas still worked, or the water was still on. We did not have grid power for 10 full days. I made the rounds to several homes to alay fears. After that word of mouth got around, but some still had to rely on MRE’s. They asked me why I wasn’t so worried?
    We have a protable gas powered electric generator. Nor a bog one but enough to power the frig freeezer and a one room airconditioner . Houston in summer ( May thru Nov) can be a brut.
    We have had several years since then and some neighbours have done a beller job of preppering for the season of the big wind. Americas night out helps us share info. ours is in Oct when the weather is a bit more bearable.

  3. Gaye. I see this advice going to “city slickers”. I have visited friends that live in neighborhoods where the music is to loud and you know alcohol is involved and they don’t want to make waves. I just could not live like that. I have always lived in a rural area. WVa, Tenn, Fl, and Ky.
    While doing my prepping, I always wonder whether or not to plan on feeding the neighbors. I still pondered that until one of my pot bellies got out and found his way next door. The phone call I received, you would have thought the world was coming to an end. I tried, but I just couldn’t catch my run away. I finally loaded some 12 gage shells with rock salt and keep an eye on the neighbor’s yard. A few shots to the rear made the piggy wish he was home. It took a few days, but the last phone call was to really let me have it. She was tired of my chickens leaving droppings in her yard. (her husband loved them. They ate the ticks that got on his dogs).
    Needless to say. My chickens are not now free range. They are cooped up. My run away piggy is home, but go ahead and ask me if I am prepping for this neighbor.
    PS. I sold then the land to build their home on 36 years ago and have never had an ill word with them.

    • Feeding the neighbors is a topic worthy of its own article for sure. I have prepared some modest goody bags for those with nothing of their own but I have mixed feelings about going beyond that. On the other hand, I would not want a child or an old or disabled person to go hungry.

      It is a tough dilemma that probably will not be answered if and when the time comes.

  4. Hello i need some help what about when the Sh*t hits the fan what about and higyne ( Sorry for Bad spelling) but we can not buy those things it will be gone Right? So how do we make it with the stuff we have?
    And By The Way do you know any deals with a year packege of food under 2000$ and if no how to make your own
    From expirene Sam’s Club is good for survail things thanks Gaye

  5. Are you referring to feminine hygiene or hygiene in general? Regarding the former, there are reusable pads for sale on Amazon and Etsy or you can make your own. I will try to send some links up to the website on Sunday.

    Food wise, Emergency Essentials has a special this month on a 1600 calorie a day for one year, one person package. The price is $1749.99 – here is a link: http://bit.ly/13C3bgK.

    As far as DIY, you might want to start with this article and these 20 items then build from there: http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/20-items-to-kick-start-your-food-storage-plan/.

    Hope this helps.

  6. I’m moving in 10 days to a new town, with a much larger house, much larger yard, and very few neighbors. Since I will be renting the house, so will be responsible for maintaining the yard, one of the first things I asked was if the landlord knew if there were any kids in the neighborhood would would be willing to earn some extra money mowing yards. I’m 66 as of almost 3 hours ago and not physically able to mow the yard anymore. I found out the next door neighbor has a 14 year old who had done work for the landlord before and the landlord said he would be glad to come over after I’ve moved in to introduce me to that family. On the other side of the house is a woman who they referred to as older, and after I smiled and asked the young wife, landlady (?) is that a proper word, if she was my age or older or just older than the landlord family is (they are young enough to be my children), she blushed and said about 50ish. She has horses and the biggest german shepherd I’ve ever seen. The landlords live out of town and said they would not be by often, unless needed, and said the neighbors are very friendly. They told me the town is so quiet and peaceful they had never felt the need to lock their house or car unless they were gone more than a few days. HOWEVER, about a week ago the next little town over, about 12 miles away that some brothers kidnapping a couple and forcing her to rob the bank where she works, and I think her husband managed to get his gun and kill one of the brothers, so after hearing that, I think I will keep the house and car locked at all times. Crime is everywhere these days, even in tiny backwater Texas communities.
    I’ve lived in this community here a little over two years and basically am moving because I want and need a bigger house and more land, but I guess I’ve been a fairly good neighbor since everyone has been telling me how much they will miss me and how they have come to counting on me for being the eyes and ears of the community. I don’t work, and am either in the house or yard with my garden and dogs most of the time. Although I don’t get around too well with the back and legs, people have gotten to know if anyone needs someone to go with them for a medical appointment or procedure where you have to have a driver with you to have the procedure done, I will go with them and drive them home if necessary. I have been the one people have felt save to watch their pets and plants when they go off, usually leaving me the keys to their homes, feeling safe that nothing will disappear while they are gone. When the landlord had decided that kids were no longer going to be allowed to skateboard on the huge parking area or ride their bikes, I went to him for the kids and pointed out the only other place for the kids to ride their bikes would be on the busy highway and that would be too dangerous, so he relented about not allowing bike riding. This complex is spread out over 2-3 acres at least, and not numbered in any logical manner, so we have gotten to where when there is an emergency and someone has to call EMS or the police, someone usually goes to the entrance and I usually stand at our end to direct the emergency people to the right cabin. For the most part it has been a nice place to live and our landlord here has been helpful in that he asks the tenants if anyone knows about any drug dealing or excessive alcohol problems to let him know and he moves them out pretty quickly to keep this a good family environment. Recently I had a neighbor who was evicted in three months after she and her husband got into a fight. She came over here and when I opened the door my legs turned to rubber when I saw her face. She told me he had beat her so I had her come inside before he could come do more harm to her. She didn’t have a phone to call the police so she used mine and I told the dispatcher I thought she needed EMS as well. He had hit her and knocked her down and then kicked her in the face a few times and I had never seen anyone hurt like that. They did have to take her to the hospital and released her later that night and I let her stay with me and the police tried to get her to go to a battered women’s shelter, the landlord told her she could stay if she would get a restraining order to keep him off the property. She chose to go back to him, so they were both evicted. I was scared to death after seeing what he had done to her that he might come over here to do her more harm, and force his way in, but after she went back to him, he would not let her leave the house until they were evicted and I think everyone breathed a big sign of relief. The landlord said he would not allow anyone who could attack someone that viciously to remain on the property.
    About a month before that I had awakened wide awake at midnight which I don’t usually do, and I admit I was pissed I had awakened like that. In less than five minutes I saw flashing red lights so I knew that some emergency people were looking for someone. I went out and they were looking for the young expectant mama next door. She was having breathing problems, had to go to the hospital, and had three little girls asleep in the house, so she handed me her keys and asked me if I would stay with the girls until her husband got there. So I just grabbed a cup of coffee and stayed with the little girls until their daddy got there a couple of hours later, and the little girls didn’t even wake up. I actually didn’t even know them that well, and now that she has had her baby and the baby has health problems they moved so she can be closer to the medical care the baby will need. But that is how this neighborhood has been, most of us are not too close but just by being there for each other when different ones of us need help, we watch each others’ backs and for the most part, everyone gets along pretty darn well.
    I’m going to miss the place, but just really need a bigger place and I’ve waited six months for a vacancy in a larger cabin and no sign of any of them moving so I’m moving while I can.

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