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11 Steps Toward Being Ordinary

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: June 28, 2019
11 Steps Toward Being Ordinary

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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”.

11 Steps Toward Being 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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If you have not done so already, please be sure to like Facebook which is updated every time there is an awesome new article, news byte, or link to a free survival, prepping or homesteading book on Amazon.  You can also follow Backdoor Survival on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ and purchase my book, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage from Amazon.

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.


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9 Best Essential Oils for Your Survival Kit | Backdoor Survival


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22 Responses to “11 Steps Toward Being Ordinary”

  1. Great list. Invisibility is the best opsec. Just let everyone else think you are a normal guy with some hobbies. Anything that draws attention to you could blow your survival in a SHTF situation. Low key is the way to go.

  2. #’s 4 and 7 were my biggest transgressions when I was younger. I would proudly wear my most obnoxious NRA shirt and carry my craziest EDC knife. Now I limit that stuff to more appropriate times of the year and locations. It is easier to wear a pro-2A shirt and a big ole knife during hunting season where it doesn’t seem so out of place.

  3. We are fairly open about having ‘some’ hurricane & earthquake supplies, but not so open about what or how much.

    I have been pleasantly surprised about how many people here in Hawaii do respond about their own preparedness, that they fill empty bottles with water and put them in the garage, have a camp stove, candles, a radio, toilet paper, whatever. People are somewhat aware.

    The problem is how unaware they are of the horrific lack of governmental preparedness, and the near impossibility of escaping the islands when such basic things as the water distribution system collapse.

    I am very open about telling them my experience with asking the Board of Water Supply about their preps for hurricanes. They have 200 pumps for the entire system on Oahu (Honolulu), four back up generators, which cannot be refueled until the roads are cleared of debris.

    None of the back up generators, nor any of the pumps are in hurricane resistant buildings, and any large number of destroyed houses would snap off hundreds if not thousands of water laterals, making it impossible to refill the storage tanks.

    That I tell people all the time, and they are horrified. That is information that the government is not providing. Instead they just say it would be a good idea to have several days’ worth of water.

    I may mention how easy it is to buy 5 gallon water fountain jugs at Home Depot, and store them somewhere dark. After that I usually let things go. They have to think about the consequences of 900,000 people without water, and what they want to do to make sure they are not among the 900,000.

    • I bought a Sawyer Mini water filter today. One thing that I have never seen mentioned in any write ups or videos is to back flush with filtered water! Too many people, without thinking, would fill the syringe with contaminated water and back flush with that, which would contaminate the filter. Even the printed instructions don’t make that clear. Remember – when instructing NEVER ASSUME!

    • Hi Jim, I was pretty disappointed by the instructions on the personal size LifeStraw as well. Maybe they have updated, but when I got ours, there was nothing about charging the filter by letting it sit in the water for 30 seconds. Nor was there anything about blowing the water out of it when done so it would dry out.

      Almost all of the one star ratings for it on Amazon are because people didn’t charge it first, so they couldn’t get a drop out of it. So simple. So basic, but they didn’t think to put those two things in the instructions. You have to read them on Amazon.

      It was yet another experience which emphasizes the need to use your gear before you need it. That’s one of the reasons we like to go camping: we use the gear, are familiar with it, and know it works.

    • Maybe Gaye or someone will do an article on “The proper setup and use of your water filters” covering the ones they have and general precautions. If the filter isn’t setup or used correctly a person may as well be drinking unfiltered water, and may well be doing so.

  4. When someone says they are coming to my house if anything happens, I tell them that I am planning on gathering up what little I have and come over to their house since I know they have way more than we do. That usually changes their attitude real quick.

  5. I used to talk about what my current prepping activity was on Face Book, until my oldest son who throws his money away on alcohol, clubs, and drugs, started hitting me up saying he had no money for food and since I had all this food I had been dehydrating, etc., could I bring him some? Also, co-workers who refuse to learn to cook or even go to the grocery store, start wanting to come over when there is an ice storm because they have no food in the house and they know I always have food. So now, mum’s the word at my place.

  6. When I first started prepping, I knew having a like-minded community would be an important component of long-term survival. But how to meet other people had me stumped. Few of my family members are interested. I got on Meetup and found quite a few groups in my area. We don’t share any info that we don’t want to until we have met someone and dealt with them long enough to trust them. I have been in a group for over a year, yet no one knows where I live or the extent of my preps. We share knowledge, set up and take classes together, etc. This past month a few of us, who are feeling comfortable with each other and have differing skill sets, are setting up our own ‘private’ group on which we will offer support during a SHTF scenario, whatever the cause. It makes me feel much more confident and secure knowing I can count on them, and them on me.

    • You are fortunate to have hooked up with some like-minded folks. From what you have said, you are going slow and doing everything right.

      My own family thinks I am eccentric and do not prep; nor do they care to learn. This is a common problem.

    • So happy to hear you have found your group. AND you’re getting to know each other well enough to find the ways of working with the strengths of each individual for the group strength. So are you also doing drills together to find how that works? How much are you sharing as to what you’re storing? Do you have ‘spot’ checks with each other to reinforce your readiness?

  7. I always enjoy your insights! More to think about with every article.

    I think part of how tightly we manage our OPSEC may have a lot to do with where we are. If I still lived in the Los Angeles or Atlanta areas, I’d probably be VERY tight-lipped about my Ops. Same with Fresno. I consider both to be relatively high density concentrations of zombies. (It’s part of the reason we left Fresno.)

    Here in southwestern New Mexico there seems to be a more relaxed population. There is still the element of zombies but not as prevalent. It’s a little easier here to talk to some folks about preparedness. Still, there is good reason for caution as well, as quite a few are “comfortable” with their lives.

  8. Off topic – but if you are religious please say a prayer for the people of Chile. Many there are in survival mode today after the 8.2 earthquake and small tsunami. There have been a few deaths and many injuries. Otherwise, just be thankful that you are not facing their troubles at your home.

  9. I have my Emergency Essentials shipped in the plain brown wrapper, but when the UPS man comes lugging a package and says “damn John. Don’t you have enough ammo yet”. Well so much for OPSEC.

  10. op sec might be fine in some areas & people, However, Buying massive amounts of anything, using credit cards,or on the internet, no matter where you shop, out of the ordinary amount of anything draws attention,
    my 2 cents.

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