Blending in has a lot going for it, for as nice as it is to be known for your uniqueness, when it comes to prepping, less is more and being ordinary rocks. Said another way, looking and acting the same as everyone else allows you to go unnoticed as you gather supplies and spend time honing your homesteading skills.
I like to call this “the pursuit of ordinary”.
OPSEC – Yes or No?
Maintaining OPSEC is an issue with many different “expert” opinions regarding how much OPSEC secrecy is really needed. Do you keep your prepping activities close to the belt, telling no one? If so, how do you become part of a preparedness community? If the stuff hits the fan we are going to need a supportive community but if you don’t talk to anyone now, how will you know whether you can trust them later?
As I said late last year in the article Is Prepper OPSEC Really Important?:
There is quite a bit of disagreement among preppers relative to the importance of OPSEC. Do you keep your activities hush hush, even amongst family members? Or do you blab to the world, hoping you can be joined by others who share similar philosophies and goal? Or is it something in-between?
In layman’s terms Operations Security or OPSEC means keeping your activities secret so “enemies” can not figure out what you are up to. Remember the old military term “loose lips, sink ships”? Something like that.
Whether or not you publicize your prepping activities is a matter of personal preference and most certainly, we are all entitled to formulate a mindset that works best for our own situation. For many, it is a tough call. Seriously. Who wants zombies (thugs and marauders) to come knocking on their door if the stuff hits the fan?
These are tough questions that each of us must consider. Most assuredly, there is no right and no wrong, but something in between. One thing, however, that we all believe, is the need to appear as common and as ordinary as possible without drawing undue attention to ourselves.
With that in mind, here is a list of things you can do now to ensure that you appear ordinary and even boring to the people you meet.
11 Steps to Take in the Pursuit of Ordinary
1. Get to know your co-workers and neighbors in a “hi, how are you?” type of way. Be friendly and social but at least in the beginning, nothing much more than that. There is no reason to share the fact that you have a year’s worth of food and 4000 rounds of ammo stored in your basement with casual friends, acquaintances and neighbors.
2. Being passionate about prepping makes you want to talk about it. The solution to this is to share preparedness information and links to interesting online content in the same way you share baseball scores or the weather report. Sharing Backdoor Survival and similar resources is encouraged within the context of “family preparedness” and “disaster readiness” but not in “the zombies will be out to get you” way.
3. Do not use the term “SHTF” around people that you do not know and trust. Sorry to say, this includes non-prepping family members.
4. Remove all bumper stickers or other outward signs or labels that you belong to a political or quasi-controversial organization such as the NRA or even the ACLU. Still belong if that is your choice; but keep it to yourself.
5. Ensure that from the street, your home looks tidy but not overly extravagant. A few weeds in the yard and less than new lawn furniture all speak to you being an average Joe or Jane. Likewise, paint your house to blend in with the surrounding neighbors. If you want you home to make an artistic statement, do so inside where no one can see it. Like I said, blend in and look ordinary.
6. Practice the art of understatement in your clothing as well as the gadgets and gizmos you carry on a daily basis. This includes your EDC which should be safely hidden out of sight in a pocket, purse, or daypack. This also applies to your firearm if you carry one. Get a concealed permit and keep your firearm out of sight.
7. When possible, have package deliveries made to a PO box. Worst case, have your survival and preparedness products shipped in plain boxes. Both Emergency Essentials and Lucky Ammo will do this upon request as will many other online vendors. Be aware, however, that in my experience, this is not 100% reliable but at least you can ask.
8. Cook outdoors frequently using the various methods you would plan to use if the grid were down. Get people used to the fact that you love outdoor cooking, whether it be a barbeque, fire pit or rocket stove. Make cooking outdoors the new normal, weather permitting or not.
9. When shopping for bulk goods at the grocery store, it is better to purchase a reasonable quantity with each trip than a huge quantity in a single trip. On the other hand, visit warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s and bulk up. Everyone buys in huge quantities at Costco!
10. Practice your response to the statement “if something happens, I am coming over to your house since I know you are well stocked”. There are many possible responses, including my favorite which is “I have set aside enough for my family to get by for a short period without much extra. What can you contribute? Perhaps we can combine forces.”
11. Take up some ordinary, even boring hobbies. Sure you may like to hang out at the firing range but why not balance that with time spent hiking, camping or reading. These more benign activities can still focus on honing your preparedness skills but they are so very mainstream that no one will suspect your true motive.
The Final Word
When I was younger, my mantra was to strive to be extraordinary. These days, in my heart of hearts, I still wish to be special but in a very different way than when I was in my twenties. Now, being extraordinary has more to do with confidence and self-esteem than with in your face achievements or notoriety.
Having goals is important and most certainly, being a prepper of the highest order is a great goal for all us. That being said, why not do so in an ordinary fashion while living an outwardly ordinary life in an extraordinary manner?
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Here are some items to consider in your quest to be a modern, 21st century homesteader. Of course the rule of thumb is always this: first purchase what you need to get by and later, as budget allows, add the extra items that will enhance and add dimension and depth to your gear.
Lodge Double Dutch Oven and Casserole with Skillet Cover: While not huge, this 5 quart Dutch Oven is, in my opinion, the perfect size for use indoors and out. The price is outstanding and it also includes a lid that will double as a skillet.
Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: This purchase changed the way I cook. I use my cast iron cookware for everything from burgers, to bacon and eggs, to biscuits. Be sure to select the Value pack Skillet with Silicone Handle which is less money and a better deal.
US Forge 400 Welding Gloves Lined Leather: These well-priced gloves provide complete heat and burn protection. Perfect for use while cooking outdoors over an open fire.
Rothco Type III Commercial Paracord: You can get 100 feet of Paracord for very affordably. This is a real bargain but be aware that price can vary substantially depending on the color.
Ticket To Ride: What can be more ordinary than playing a family board game? This is my favorite board game, bare none. Family friendly, you will spend hours in front of the fireplace playing Ticket to Ride with your favorite people. This is worth the splurge.
Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: Don’t let the price lead you to think this wireless flood light is wimpy. I have two of these and feel that these lights are worth double the price. Using D-cell batteries, the Dorcy floodlight will light up a dark room or a dark stairway in an instant. I can not recommend these enough.
Quikclot Sport Brand Advanced Clotting Sponge: A must for any first aid or emergency kit, Quikclot Sport stops moderate to severe bleeding until further medical help is available.
Israeli Battle Dressing, 6-inch Compression Bandage: This is another inexpensive, yet critical item for your first aid kit. Combat medics, trauma doctors, and emergency responders all recommend this Israeli Battle Dressing (IBD) for the treatment of gunshot wounds, puncture wounds, deep cuts, and other traumatic hemorrhagic injuries.
What are the best oils for your survival kit? Here are my top picks.
My eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage will provide you with everything you need to create an affordable food storage plan, including what to buy and how to store it. Nothing scary and nothing overwhelming – you really can do this!