Community Survival: Bringing Friends and Family Into the Fold

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
Community Survival: Bringing Friends and Family Into the Fold

The challenges of living a self-sufficient, prepper lifestyle can be overwhelming when attempting to do it all yourself. If you are lucky, you have a spouse or partner on board to share both the work and the joys of self-reliance. On the other hand, I know from the many comments and emails that I receive that a good percentage of you are on your own.

Some carry the torch alone due to circumstance but others soldier along without assistance because family and friends scoff and consider them loony tunes. Believe me, I feel your pain.

Community Survival - Bring Friends & Family Into the Fold |Backdoor Survival|

My goal this year is to bring together some of the brightest minds in the preparedness world to help us figure out how to bring a sense of community into our lives. You have already heard from Richard Broome in his “Call to Action“, and my own plan for community survival is in the works.

Today, though, I want to share some wisdom from Jim Cobb, long-term survivalist and prolific author of some the best prepper books out there. I recently reached out to Jim and requested permission to reprint the Appendix from his book, Countdown to Preparedness. I chose this piece because, in those few pages, Jim laid down some rules for “Aunt Jane” and “Uncle Bob” who are assuming that they will show up at your door so that you can take care of them following a disaster.

He takes a novel approach and I think it is a good one.

Bringing Friends and Extended Family into the Fold

By now, you have friends and family who are aware of your prepping tendencies. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’ve heard at least some variation of, “If something does happen, I’m coming to your place.” As you continue on your path of disaster readiness, you’ll hear that quite a bit.

I’m a big proponent of community survival. By that, I mean I believe that the odds of survival are greatly enhanced when you have a group of people working at it, rather than just going it alone. So I’m not necessarily opposed to having certain people show up after a disaster hits . . . as long as they know what they’re getting into.

A fellow prepper, we’ll call him “Nick,” drafted a letter that he’s given to select family and friends. These are people who are likely to show up, and their presence would be welcome for a variety of reasons. Here’s my own variation on that letter.

Dear Family Member,

As many of you already know, I am actively preparing for potential disasters or crises that may be coming. While I am concentrating my efforts on more mundane situations, such as power outages or weather-related emergencies, I do not discount the possibility of a more long-term calamity occurring at some point down the road.

Should such an emergency come to pass, while I’d love to take you all in, provide for your needs, and keep you safe, I cannot and will not do that if it means placing my immediate family at greater risk. With that in mind, I am extending to you this offer. If you are willing to do at least some of the work involved with regard to prepping, specifically either purchasing supplies or providing the funds for me to do so on your behalf, I can properly package and store them for long-term use. Doing so will ensure we all have enough food, water, and supplies to make it through whatever life decides to throw our way.

I will also do all I can to help you properly plan for emergencies and prepare your own household for disasters.

Here is just a sample list of the types of supplies we will need, should a long-term event take place and we all end up under one roof.

Food Medical/First Aid Security/Defense

  • Beans
  • Prescription medications
  • Firearms
  • Rice
  • Bandages
  • Ammunition
  • Baking supplies
  • Various OTC medications
  • Cleaning kits and supplies
  • Canned meats
  • Gauze
  • Two-way radios
  • Canned vegetables
  • Ace bandages
  • Gun safes/locks
  • Honey
  • Antibiotic ointments
  • Non-firearm weapons
  • Canned fruits
  • Burn creams
  • Peanut butter
  • Medical equipment
  • Coffee/tea
  • Canned soups

Storage items Clothing (for each person) Miscellaneous gear

  • Plastic bags
  • Outerwear
  • Bleach
  • Plastic buckets
  • Several pair pants
  • Oil lamps, wicks, fuel
  • Canning jars
  • Several pair underwear
  • Charcoal
  • Canning lids/rings
  • Several shirts
  • Toilet paper
  • Totes
  • Several pair of socks
  • Aluminum foil
  • Barrels
  • One or two pair of boots
  • Matches/lighters
  • Water filtration equipment

Again, that is just a small sampling of the supplies and equipment we’d need to provide for all of our needs. Adding just one extra mouth to feed, without having accounted for it ahead of time, substantially decreases the available food for all.

Here is what I propose. If you plan on showing up here after a major disaster, make it easier on all involved by either regularly contributing items such as outlined above or by providing funds every week or month for us to purchase supplies for you. The items purchased are and will always be yours, to do with what you feel necessary. For example, let’s say a year from now your employer downsizes the staff and you find yourself unemployed. The food purchased on your behalf can and will be made available to you as needed.

Consider prepping in this fashion like insurance against an uncertain future.

I would encourage you to give this some serious thought. Then, we can discuss the finer details. I’m sure we can work something out.

The idea here is to help these folks be accountable and get them involved. Explain to them that you’re willing to store the items and maintain them as needed, but they need to provide them to you.

In some situations, you may find a few of these folks are willing to just give you some money here and there for you to purchase items on their behalf.

Another approach is to explain to them that they can’t just show up empty-handed. You might give them a list similar to the above and explain that should they need to come to your place for safety, they should bring as many of those items as they can carry.

The idea here is to allow these friends and family members a way to be accountable for themselves, albeit with your assistance. This also serves to give you a clear conscience. You’ve taken the time to lay out exactly what they need to do in order to provide for their own needs should a crisis come to pass. The ball is then in their court, so to speak. If they decline the offer, so be it. It becomes their problem, not yours.


The Final Word

At the beginning of this article, I said that I feel your pain. It is true that I have a husband on board with my prepping activities but other than that, no other family membersprep. I have three local friends that are preppers and a few others that want to learn. Local “experts” who will go unnamed, want nothing to do with me.

Everyone else has told me that they will show up at my doorstep with the big one hits. Alas, they are in for a big surprise.

As we continue to explore community survival, I encourage you to share your own thoughts so that together we can learn from each other and move one step closer to earning the respect we deserve for having the foresight to prepare.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites! In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

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35 Responses to “Community Survival: Bringing Friends and Family Into the Fold”

  1. Thanks Gaye, that’s very good advice! Like the old saying goes, “walk a mile in my shoes and then you will understand”. It takes personal experience to understand the challenges of going it alone. It is not an impossible task but it does have it’s difficulties and they are not insurmountable.

  2. A good article. I think I am one up on the people that say they will come to uncle Johnnie’s place. The people that say that live over one tank of gasoline away. They wouldn’t know how make it here. The ones that live close, will I am already prepping for them, my children and grandchildren.

  3. Great article. I am prepping for myself and my husband. My immediate family (i.e. my children and grandchildren) are aware of my prepping but think I am crazy and should be institutionalized for it. However, I know that life would be worthless to me if I didn’t have them with me after a disaster. So knowing myself the way I know myself. I am prepping for their arrival. They never say I will come to your place but I know my kids if something happens sooner or later all 5 will show up with spouses and kids in tow. So my preps are geared toward 20 people as if that is how many will arrive. I do this with the full knowledge that if the SHTF my family will be eventually thank me for it.

  4. This is definitely a topic that weighs on my mind frequently. I’m not sure if I am quite ready to draw this line in the sand just yet but it very well may come to that point soon. The reasons for prepping is so crystal clear to me that it is hard for me to comprehend how so many many people can ignore and deny them so easily. I have already decided to go ahead and prep for some loved ones that I know will show up emptyhanded. I know I wouldn’t be able to turn them away, but I am just not capable to put enough away for everybody that I suspect might show up.

  5. My sister said this to me just last October. I told her to take every scrap of food out of her house and put it into their motor home. Add everything out of the medicine cabinet, and
    every shovel, rake, garden tool and then go get everything out of your closet. Drive to the nearest gas station and fill that big gas tank up and drive on down! If she could not do that, then I could not help her, Because I am already helping interested family who are getting somewhat ready. I said you need to help out here, not just show up.

    • How dare you place conditions on someone before you will help them. Just jok’n, and I love your response of ‘get on down here, don’t just show up’. Unfortunately that is exactly what most friends and relatives have in mind, along with all their ‘second sucker clan’ associates in tow, as I call them, that were too damn sorry to prep or take any proactive role in their own survival.

  6. Great letter and I will be modifying it a bit for my use. I have used local events to encourage people to at least get a 72 hour bag together. When I get a shrug or something negative in body language, I simply remind them of last winter when nothing was moving for 4 days. Did they need to get something from the store or did they have it? That’s when I usually get a negative response. My reply, “when you can survive going 5 days without the need for run to the store, then we can talk, meanwhile…..if it’s okay with you, can I teach your children some basic camping skills?”
    Now, I have a better response. Anyone hear about the small plane that went down in Kentucky? It was a family plus a babysitter. The only survivor was a 7 year old girl. THIS will be why I want to teach whatever children I can. Please note what her father is said to have taught her.

  7. Gaye, How do you suggest finding like minded people? I have a very small family and friends circle, and feel weird joining say, a Meetup group, and planning with strangers. Do I just need to get over that?

    • Hi, Lisa. I saw your comment and thought I would let you know I did exactly what you feel weird about. I must say that the people in my Meetup group are wonderful, come from all walks of life and not a one of us are wearing any tinfoil hats. Please give it a try as it has really helped to increase my skill set.

    • I wish I had the answers, Lisa. I am in a similar situation with s small family who does not prep and a very small circle of friends. (I know that many of you will be surprised by that but it is true; I am quite reclusive.)

      If you have a CERT group in your area, that might be a good start. I wish there was one in mine. A HAM radio group (check out AARL) might also be a good place to meet like minded people. The Red Cross was a bust for me; your mileage may vary.

      I am really making an effort in 2015 to bring some sort of local community together here where I live. I hope to find 6 others but even 3 will be better than nothing. As always, I will share my progress on the blog.

    • There is at least one so-called “national” Preppers Network; it has organizations throughout the country. Just go to your state and see what’s possible. However, I’d like to caution you: preppers come in all kinds, just like any other group. I had one guy who very clearly is “trolling” for females (and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t looking for a ‘wife’) through his local group. Seriously. Be careful, but, they are ONE WAY to connect locally. I should add I do know preppers who have met like this, married, and could not be happier.

      One way we began to “ferret out” like-minded people in our community: we had a friend who trusted us, who got her small church to make available their multi-purpose room for an “Always Prepared” Mini-Seminar. We talked about our many years of experience with the American Red Cross (true) and the lessons learned: not once did we ever serve one individual or one family who was actually ‘prepared’ for what hit them. Our motto as a result: be prepared for anything, at any time, for any reason. No further explanation needed. As a result, we trained a handful of ‘newbies’, who are now training others. We did this on our own, and made no reference to the ARC at the time. Some came and did not choose to become involved, not because they weren’t like-minded, but, because they had so bought the ‘fear-factor’ of revealing themselves, they chose not to trust ANYONE, including us. You will meet those kinds. They probably won’t make it on their own, post-IHTF, but that is their choice to make.

  8. I read an article on the “Backdoor Survival” Blog site called

    “Define the Prepper Movement With A Call Action”

    One of the discussions in reply to this blog asked,
    “How do we get children on board the prepper movement”

    Well folks let’s take a page from our government and the Liberals and start to teach the children in groups. Let’s teach them First Aid, Cooking and the Preserving of foods, Marksmanship, Animal Husbandry, Rabbit, Chicken Goat, Sheep Raising, Camping, Hiking, Ax and knife skills, Knot tying, Lashing, Pioneer Skills, map Reading, Compass use and a host of other topics necessary for a prepper to survive.

    Folks we ALREADY have an organization for teaching our children survival/prepper topics. It’s called the “Scouting” movement. Boy and Girl Scouts. Get active become a scoutmaster, have your church or local service agency (Moose/Elks/Eagles Lodge, Lions Club, VFW/American Legion Post) or find a place where you can meet and set one up or join a group already established. Trust me the scoutmaster would appreciate the additional help.
    You would have a group of young people who would love to know first aid, knots, how to lash items together, fire building, cooking and many other outdoor skills. By teaching them you build your skills.

    • I was a Girl Scout myself, if you want your daughter to learn to sell cookies then go for it. Otherwise you might want to look into their Venture Program. I think it’s the same as Boy Scouts it’s just open to boys and girls. I’m not sure of the age limits.

  9. Great article. I have two lugnuts for brothers that live nearby. I got them interested in prepping after they saw what I was doing. We have a SHTF plan. Even though they have done some prepping, I have a to-do list for each of them if there is a SHTF event. Each one has certain businesses to go to when things nuts. Grocery stores, Gun Shops, Wally World, etc., with a list of things to grab.

    • You know, I have heard lots of people say this same thing. Do you really think it will be safe to do so post-IHTF?

  10. A well thought out response! I copied it to a word document and printed out 10. Now I will carry one with me at all times and if I ever get the same comment, I believe merely handing them a copy of the letter will work wonders. I’m not super secretive about my prepping nor do I advertise what I do but I am always trying to get others to see the value in at least a little bit of prepping. With the cold weather we are experiencing right now, it just serves as a reminder as to why we should be ready.

  11. This is a great letter for family and friends Gaye!This is a fantastic letter for everyone to have! You worded it such a way that you are coaxing them in a good way to be prepared for the unexpected. Bravo,my friend. Linda

  12. Angela, I feel the same way so I have extracted promises (in blood of course;) LOL from my sons (and their wives) that what ever happens, they will get themselves and families to our home. My husband (Dahubs) doesn’t think ANYTHING is ever going to happen and I’m a bit loco but he hasn’t stopped me from trying to get prepared, I mean I can only “nudge” him so far. Those of you who have been married awhile know what I mean,wink, wink, lol. So I too am looking at about 25 or so that I’m trying to do for. My one son has contributed cash when he and DIL can. Other son’s wife is also putting things away and will bring supplies with them (they don’t live far from us, less than 5 miles) She is also prepping for her family (mom, dad 2 sisters and nephew) so they will be part of the 25 or so in my home aka the BOL. I have two other relatives at opposite ends of the country that are prepping, funny how we all came to the conclusion (independently of each other about three years ago) we should be preparing for STHTF and other emergencies. Like the Nov. storms in NY the relative there has house entirely heated by wood stove and they grow and can, freeze and dehydrate all from their garden and what they trade
    with other neighbors. Other than losing the electricity for a week, hurray for candles and oil lamps, they were set to wait the storms out in pretty nice comfort.

  13. The more people in the know about your preping the less secure you are pure and simple The only people you can trust are blood kin and them only half way. Alcoholics and drugees will steal from you to pay for their addictions. A trusted family member can become a vicious enemy in a divorce bent on revenge. Always keep a private stash that only you know about. Family members will talk about your preps and future looters are listen to every thing they say They will come for you in a shtf situaltion

  14. Two of my cousins are already out in the woods and living off the land while I keep the bills paid. I can and will join them as soon as teotwawki hits. Some of you have kids and grandkids that you can’t just walk away from no matter how stupid their actions or lack of actions are. After immediate family though, anyone that needs a glass of water from me will die with a swollen tongue, as pantsupdontloot would say. Tough times coming folks, stay the course, keep the faith, and see you on the other side. God bless.

  15. Another lesson learned the hard way: not everyone you try to “bring in to the fold” will be a candidate. I worked for two years with a friend, someone I thought I knew well. I went to her home and helped her can foods on more than one day. I included her in local “trainings”, and showed her how to do “things” she was interested in, such as growing your own food regardless of circumstances, securing your home (even helped her with that!), and numerous other “projects”. What I learned is that she never wanted to learn over that two years – she wanted someone to do it for her. Haven’t had any contact with her for quite some time, don’t plan to do so. Most of you probably aren’t as “thick-headed” as am I, but, lesson learned.

  16. Screw that community BS.

    If i can’t repair, re use or re purpose things on my own then forget it. If I can’t , then I’m already passed.

    And yes, I am the hermit on the block you do NOT want to mess with.

    The End,

    Snake Plisken

  17. I have a husband who, while he teases me that I am a “Doomsday Prepper” is always willing to help me with preps and food storage. My kids are still young, so they just think it’s normal. My mom, who taught me a lot of what I learned as a kid, camping skills, sewing, cooking, etc. does not prep herself, so I am including her and my stepdad in my count. The rest of my family and friends all think I’m weird for what I do. So I developed an email letter. Whenever someone tells me they are coming to my house, I ask for their email if I don’t already have it, and send them this letter.

    Dear Friend or Family Member,
    You recently expressed an interest in joining my family if a disaster occurs. Please know that you are welcome if you have a skill we need. Please let me know what your skills are. However, I am not planning on including you in my food storage prep, so if you would like to join us, please let me know, and I will email you the list of things you will need to accumulate to feed and clothe and protect yourself. Bring these items with you in event of an emergency, and you will be welcome. If you choose not to help yourselves, or help us by collecting your own food, I will turn you away, whether I love you or not. Sorry to be so mean about this, but I am concerned about my own family’s survival first and foremost. If you need help getting started, I will be happy to email you a list of reputable sites with helpful articles and how to suggestions. Thank you.

    This has shut up everyone I know, and even started a few towards prepping themselves. At first I felt really bad about being mean, but the jokes were starting to get to me, and some people were trying very hard to make me feel stupid for my preps, so I got mean. The few who took me seriously and started prepping on their own have started to become my community, and I am teaching them what I learned, and some of them have taught me stuff I didn’t know. The haters have stopped teasing me, and now I rarely have to break out the letter. Sorry for the long comment, and this might not work for everybody, but the people I sent this to all know me pretty well, and know what I’m like, so very few were actually offended.

  18. The blizzard Juno just ended here in the Northeast and as usual people were out “stocking up” before the worst of it came. I saw a lot of friends on social media talking about needing to do that and it always makes me laugh but also worries me. Unless the SHTF the same time as the storm we generally can’t go out for one day and lots of people don’t seem to have enough food to last that one day. I live in a semi-rural area of Maine and the longest I have been “cut-off” was 2 days due to downed trees. I wasn’t a prepper then but I had 4 small children and more than enough food for at least a week except for maybe running out of milk.

    My now 6 children are all grown and gone and they know if anything happens they are to come home with their family if they have one and no one else. I also stressed the importance of not telling anyone about my house. Several live away and earn good incomes, I like Gaye’s idea of having them stockpile at my home in advance either bringing it themselves on visits or my buying it. We don’t know what the conditions will be like when they need to travel here and they certainly can’t bring their supplies on foot.

    Thanks Gaye and everyone else who commented for these ideas. Now I just need to get the kids on-board. My husband and I can’t afford to prep for everyone and I feel like a weight just lifted from my shoulders.

  19. The other day when we were having a conversation on chance, my mother in law mentioned watching a TV program of preppers and said how irresponsible they were for over purchasing food that the preppers could not possible use up. She is a Christian woman and so I quoted a phrase from the bible “God helps does that help themselves.” I further said that although chance plays a role on whether you survive a catastrophe, it our responsibility especially if one has children to be prepared to survive and help others. She was unresponsive. Do not know if she was thinking about what I said or just giving up.

    • You could take it back further, to Noah. Then there is Pharaoh’s dream of the fat and skinny cows…throughout the scriptures we are told to prepare for bad times because they ‘will surely come’. Even if she didn’t catch it right then. You planted a seed, so nourish it once in awhile if she is important to you. 🙂

  20. Well, I have a different take on this. Recently I was talking with my nephew and his wife. I point blank ask what his plans were and if I was included. He said I wasn’t. He would be getting his family out and away. Yes, he meant his immediate family that lived with him. At first I was hurt. As I have thought about it. There will also be many like him who will only be able to handle taking care of his immediate family. Is this wrong? Not to my way of thinking. He’s military trained and if that’s all he’s capable of doing w/o going on the edge or shutting down…then he’s up front and I know where I stand. Besides my daughter, he is the only family member local to me. So what’s to do? Build from what you know and seek as Gaye has already posted about. Remember, family is important. There may be others out there who need ‘family’ so spread your caring and those who are meant to be with you will find you or you them.

  21. Hey Gaye–Always love the thoughtful articles and your recommendations are great. I am reclusive by nature myself. People who, like us, keep to themselves are a mystery to others and so they feel a little (or a lot depending on their self-esteem issues) threatened. I say, spit on the so called experts. If you were closer to me…actually I don’t know where you are…I’d join up with you. I’m in AL on my little rural farm 25 acres of trees and a pond with fish, 2 horses and plenty of space to prep in.
    Right now, I’m experiencing a survival situation. Have been out of work for sometime & now, out of money. So far we haven’t gone hungry but only because of the preps I gathered. I don’t know how the situation will turn out but I know what’s in that pantry & I know what I can do to increase my odds of surviving. Lots of my knowledge I got right here! So, kudos to you for the site & your preps & if you need to come south for some reason, just shoot me an email & we’ll find a meet-up place.

  22. Thank you so much for the article. I just recently started prepping and feel that I have a good start. Although I’m no where near where I want to be. Recently my bf and I were talking with his sister and brother in law and they had been saying they needed to do something. As of yet all they have done is purchase self defense. His sister keeps saying that she’s coming to my house. I’m starting to get to the point that I don’t talk anymore about it with them. If they really were worried about something they would start putting aside food and such. I just can’t help the feeling that something bad is right around the corner. Thanks!

  23. I have a perfect prepper property for sale but I can’t find where to advertise it. Can anyone help?
    Thanks in advance!

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