How Do I Help Others Prepare?

We had a very interesting, thought provoking email a few days back. Part of our response to this reader was, Your email has created quite a bit of discussion in our house.” It really has. Initially we started thinking of items that would be useful. Then we got to the point of lists of lists. But as we pondered and discussed it further we came to a realization.

You can’t help someone 
who doesn’t want to be helped. 
Here is the email we received.
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Hi Frank and Fern,
I have a question that I thought might appeal to some of your readers, as well as myself. I have been working for the last few years at becoming more self-sufficient, and am really ramping things up as I feel we are rounding the final corner. That said, my family has been watching me put up fence and raise animals and grind my own grain with a tolerant shake of their heads, but without much concern that I might be right about the future. So now that I see things really looming, I have realized that I need to at least make an attempt to insure that they have some of the basics that they will need. And finally to my question: what would you suggest putting into a “starter kit” that I could put together for a couple hundred dollars? I would like to make up a kit for my parents, and perhaps each sibling, or at least give them a list of where to start. I have the skills, and some of the tools necessary that I can teach/lend, but where to start for them? Lighting? Seeds? Water? Food storage? Canning supplies? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks,
[Name Removed]

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It is very admirable that this woman wants to provide starter kits for her family members, especially for family members that tend to just shake their heads and wonder if she will come to her senses someday. She asks some good questions about where to start. FEMA has lots of information on their website about creating disaster preparedness kits. So does the Red Cross and a number of other sites, including many, many blogs. Each individual family member’s medical and dietary needs would drive the contents of a personal preparedness kit. Of course, at the top of everyone’s list would be water. Then other items that may be needed or desired would depend on the individual, their location, age, physical condition, and on, and on, and on.

This may not be the type of information this woman was looking for when she wrote to us. But the more we thought about it and talked about it, we kept coming back to one basic foundational concept.
You can’t help someone 
who doesn’t want to be helped.

What we mean by this is that a person that truly doesn’t foresee any disasters, downturns, collapses, catastrophes, or TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) scenarios possibly occurring in their lives, will

not benefit from anything you can prepare for them. Why? Because it has no meaning or value to them. They have no use for any material items you may give them, because they will never need them. IT, a disaster, won’t happen to them, maybe to you, but not to them. And if IT, a collapse, ever does happen, they probably won’t be able to handle it mentally or emotionally, because IT wasn’t supposed to happen in the first place.


For example. We have tried to give useful, functional Christmas gifts for many, many years. Almost every year the recipients give us that forced smile and say, Thanks. You can see in their eyes that they are thinking

more along the lines of, “What in the world did they give me this for?? I will never use it.” Then there was the year we gave everyone heavy duty outdoor extension cords. Our brother-in-law opened it and said, “Great! Thanks! The rats just ate through my extension cord last night. This is just what I needed.” Or another year when a nephew had just started to college. When he opened a set of Maglights he said, “Great! I needed a flashlight just the other day and didn’t have one. Thanks!” Other examples of Christmas gifts we have given are fire extinguishers, small battery chargers, rechargeable lanterns, water storage containers, hooded sweatshirts and other items of this nature. But, most of the time, the kind of gifts we give just get tossed aside once people get home, never to be thought of or used again.


So, back to this person’s question. What should she give her family? Our answer? Her continued vigilance and example of what it takes to be prepared, doing the work entailed in trying to learn and live a self-reliant

life style. Encouragement to learn, and gentle challenges to try a few new things, may be all she is ever able to do for these family members until the time comes. Then, it is almost guaranteed they will show up at her door, if possible, knowing that she was right all along. Knowing that they are not prepared and ignorant of the knowledge and skills needed to survive. Knowing that with their arrival, they are placing an impossible burden upon her for taking care of their needs, and in many cases their wants, as well. 


So, what advice can we offer this woman? That’s a really tough question, and the answer will be colored by our own experiences, biases and opinions. We have long wrestled with the total lack of preparedness of our family members that live in this area. No matter what we say, do, or how

we live, there is not one, NOT ONE, of our family members that is in the least bit ready for the collapse of our society and world. And, you know what? We can’t feed them all. It’s impossible. We have read about people that say they will let everyone in and when they run out of food, they’ll just all starve together. I’m sorry, but that’s ludicrous. Just how long will that happy family get along all hunky dory when there isn’t enough food? I’m not going to paint the picture of what will happen, but it won’t be pretty, and not everyone will survive. Harsh? Yes, incredibly so. But true. Hiding from the truth of the starvation and deprivation that will come with a collapse of society will not change anything. It will still happen.


Our recommendation comes down to this. Instead of giving people something that they don’t value, will not use, and will probably waste instead, store what extra things you can at home. Then sit down and do some very serious soul searching. If you cannot feed the people you are thinking of in your family in a collapse situation, then you need to decide

ahead of time who you can feed. Then once that decision is made, you have to come to terms with turning away those you can’t, if they make it to your house. Another question to consider is, are you going to tell them ahead of time that they are not welcome at your house if a collapse occurs, because you will not be able to feed them without causing your own family to starve? Easy conversation? No. Will they believe you even if you tell them? Probably not. After all, it’s not really going to happen anyway, and you are just one of those whacko prepper people that think the sky is falling. Just like Henny Penny. And they have never believed you anyway. Another very hard question. Are you prepared to do what is necessary for the survival of your family if they do show up and refuse to leave? Hard thoughts.


We are grateful for this woman’s email. It has caused a lot of thought and discussion in our house. Please share your thoughts and ideas on this topic. We can all benefit from this conversation. The conclusion we have come to can be considered disheartening by some, but in the long run, we prefer to have a clear picture of the possibilities. We don’t like to play head 

games with ourselves, and pretend everything will always be peachy and smell like roses. We have tried to share, teach, show, gently nudge and point out some of the markers of the coming collapse to our friends and family, and by writing this blog. But few there are that have come to see the truth of what is coming. While there are many that continue to be blinded by the distractions of the world, and choose not to see what is happening around them. We have been brought to this place and to this blog. We will continue to share what we have been shown in the hopes of reaching just one more person, that they might be ready. And maybe, just maybe, they can help one more person to be ready as well. 


Until next time – Fern

22 thoughts on “How Do I Help Others Prepare?

  1. Karin, sometimes it's difficult to decide what to do. When I was a teenager and young man, I always wished someone had published a rulebook for living. I'm much older now, and I still wish there was a rulebook for living. We look for inspiration and do the best we can.Frank

  2. This whole issue has been on my mind a great deal, and I have come to realize what you already know — not only that you can't help people that don't want to be helped, but that most people don't want HELP, they want someone to provide for them. I realized that all my ideas for prepping for others would just enable them to continue to rely on someone else rather than themselves, which is a large part of where this whole problem started. And I asked myself, how many of my ideas were for SURVIVAL, and how many were for making lives easier? Shelter and heat, I can not help others with, light and EASY water are not requirements of life. So I am going to stock seeds to share with others if necessary, since food will be the largest issue by far. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom by writing this article! God bless you both.

  3. It has to make you wonder about people, doesn't it Fiona? It just never ceases to amaze me what some people do, or don't do, or what they expect someone else to do for them. This is where we are as a society. Get up, dust yourself off, and get on down the road. Merry Christmas.Frank

  4. Rosco, thank you for the comment and thank you for reading. You seem to know what's coming, and age in some cases can be a limiting factor. I am a few days away from 65, and on most days I realize that I am not 21 anymore. But I can still hear, see and think, and I have skills. As you are aware, the suburbs might be a tough place to be, but we have to make do with what we have. Thank you.Frank

  5. Hi Sue. We are flashlight fanatics. About every other year it seems like I give flashlights for Christmas. Here's what I give, it's a Maglight combo pack, one small AA, and one large 3D cell size in LED. The LED bulbs last much longer, give more light and use less battery power. I put rechargeable batteries in all of mine. They seem to last forever. I don't know whether it's Lowe's or Home Depot where I get these. We have the large one in each automobile, the small one in each glove box, and a large one right inside each door of every building we have. The little clips they come with are handy for mounting them just inside each door. We have a large one on each bedside table, and two large ones in a spot with other emergency supplies. Small ones are in each go pack and in Fern's purse. We love flashlights. Merry Christmas!Frank

  6. Ralph and I came to the \”You cannot help\” frame of mind when we tried to help his daughter and ex wife with gardening supplies. They were always telling Ralph they needed and wanted a garden so we took pails and seed and lots of information so they could start small and see what they needed. Nothing ever came of it…and when they moved to the new place they are at, Ralph asked if they were going to try the pail garden there…they had not even bothered to take the pails. It is sad but we can only do what we can do!

  7. We are 77 and 83 have some preps own a small motor home an have said to oldest Son that if we can we want to double up with them. We can't bug out but I am another weapon of defence and have other /skills but we both are in suburbs an will need to protect what we have. With younger Son also it is perhaps doable. But fending off the unprepared relatives will be Brutal and Heart wrenching Rosco 73

  8. Anything they don't want just send it to me. lol !! I ask my husband for a really good flashlight for Christmas this year. I have on in the house and my car but i need one to keep in my storm shelter/cellar. I have family that think it won't happen to them. I keep giving them things as gifts and tell to put them away just in case.This post was right on time.Thank you and Merry Christmas!!!Sue

  9. Tewshooz, on occasion when I meet someone new, or talk to someone new at church, I will ask them how they think things are going. You can tell quickly, which way they're going to go, because some will start off in a non-stop gripe, and others have a constructed, organized thought about what's happening. I normally try to introduce some type of radio conversation. And you get the, \”Oh, yea, I'm interested. I'd love to learn that.\” But it never happens. Nobody cares. Even the one that has the organized thoughts can't see the possibility of any form of disruption. The conversation is just academic, as they say. The stock market goes up, the stock market goes down. Life is good.There are going to be gazillions of people that will not be able to mentally wrap themselves around any form of catastrophe. It is very sad that these people will thin themselves out. I hope they don't take too many others with them.Thank you for the comment.Frank

  10. Desiree, that's a tough call. If you ask your group leader to stop because it makes you feel uncomfortable, who knows, it may get worse. We do need to learn that there are times we need to keep information to ourselves. Yours is an excellent example that others can learn from. I wish I had more words of wisdom.Frank

  11. Leigh, thank you for your interesting comment. A few years ago, maybe five or six years now, Fern and I were trying to convince everyone that they needed to store food and other associated items. And one day it dawned on us that we were telling everybody what we were doing, and it left a sinking feeling in our gut. Not everyone we associate with is probably of the highest character. They wouldn't hesitate to take from others. We've had people make that same comment, \”We'll just come live with you.\” And when we tell them, \”No, you won't.\” They just kind of laugh it off, like a sad joke. We're taught we're supposed to help our neighbors, but I'm not always real sure about that concept. I worry about the UPS man. But I don't guess I can live in a cave, so I have to have contact with some people. Take care.Frank

  12. Hello, Beth. Fern and I have had this same discussion many a time. We can't do it by ourselves, and we know we can't. But, I believe that I have to worry more about people that I know, than people I don't know. I'm afraid that it's not going to be very pretty. But the people I worry about the most, will be coming from the government. Thank you for the comment.Frank

  13. Thank you, Kathi. A person can't stock enough food to feed a son and a daughter-in-law. Because the daughter-in-law might have two sisters. And each one of them has a husband. And each husband has a mother and a father. And each mother and father have brothers and sisters. And it goes on and on. Everybody's got to set their limits, because everybody has family members that have family members. What I'm about to say next would be a great lesson for all of our politicians. There comes a time when somebody has to say, \”Enough.\” And learn to use the word, \”No.\” But it's not going to happen. Now where did I put my burrito?Frank

  14. Kymber, thank you for your kind words. We have tried for years to get people to prepare, even it's to prepare for the smallest event. If the electricity goes off, everybody knows it will be back on quickly. It the water goes off, it will be back on quickly. I don't need a gun, that's what the police are here for, to protect me. I don't need a fire extinguisher, that's what the fire department is for. All I do need is a fresh battery for my remote control and a case of burritos. Hate to sound negative, but that's the way I see most of our society right now. Thank you for your comment.Frank

  15. You know, this is a difficult one to think about. There was a discussion about this very thing on the Survivalist Blog a couple weeks ago. Reminds me of the parable of the ant and the grasshopper. Of course, some people are just totally unaware of the political situation in this country and the world. They are busy working and raising kids and God knows what. One of my friends runs a jewelry store and restaurant here in town and is unaware of what is going on. I have tried to engage in conversation about the political aspects of the danger we are in, but she just isn't interested in hearing any of it. Too busy and tired. Many people just cannot comprehend a total breakdown of society as we know it. They don't care. They will not be welcome at our door when TSHTF. Natural disasters are one thing, and of course, we would help. But TEOTWAWKI is different. Are we going to be killed for our food? Maybe, but not being prepared will surely get one killed. If someone doesn't want to see and be aware of what is going on, then that is the way it is. One can only do so much, IMHO. Shake the dust off your sandals and move on.

  16. I made the biggest mistake of my life a couple years back. My Bible study group knows I am a gardener. And that I can and preserve. My big mouth spouted out that I was prepping for whatever was coming. Now the group leader introduces me as a 'master gardener and if something happens just go to her house and she can feed you. We are all going to her house'. I cringe now. I realize I need to ask her to stop. What I do say is prices the way they are I have not been able to do much stocking for quite a while. Anyway….that is my story. Caused by my big mouth!!

  17. Very interesting post Fern. Very thought provoking. You are so right that you cannot help folks who don't want to be helped. My personal concern isn't so much for family, but neighbors. They watch what we're doing like hawks. Someone told me that if anything happens \”we'll just come live with you, ha, ha, ha.\” Ha ha not! The statement took me off guard and left me speechless, but I know I need a response for that. I think some folks are aware, but assume they can count on others to bail them out. Logically, I'm only one person who tries to store enough to get two of us through the winter months. How long would that last with 10 people, or 20? A couple of days? If complete chaos did result (which is likely) I have to accept that we likely might be killed for our food. Not a comforting thought.

  18. Amen to the statement about loose lips, I did not know you guys used an alias (me too). I have had the discussion about his posts on the internet, pics of my canning, dried goods, etc. * discussion of stocks of tools, ammunition….. absolutely no ones business. I feel that in the event of one of those really bad, situations that lasted for 2 months or more. We would be out of luck, not cause we could not provide for ourselves far from it. But within a short time we would be over run. 2 aging people can not sit up 24-7 and hold back hordes of people.

  19. That's a very true statement, Fern, that you can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped. (Sounds like something you'd say about an alcoholic too, doesn't it?) If she feels that she can't turn those people away when/if they arrive at her door, she might want to store extra at her home rather than try to help them stock up at their own homes. Let's face it, they wouldn't take care of their own stock at their house, wouldn't rotate it, wouldn't know where it is or how to use it anyway.

  20. Fern and Frank – what an excellent post and filled with very true, and soul-crushing information for the lady! however, we all come to the sad point in trying to prepare others when we realize that we cannot force anyone to prepare. all that we can do is prepare for ourselves and hopefully teach a few others by example, through blogs, etc. there is a reason for the saying \”you can lead a horse to water, but can't force him to drink\” and this applies to all preppers as well. thank you both for taking such time and consideration in answering this lady's email in such a thoughtful manner. there's a reason i come here regularly – i call it learning from those who have been there, done it, got the t-shirt and care enough to share!your friend,kymber

  21. Hi Karin. We hoped that our response would go over well, and we hope that it did. It truly saddens us that people can't see the obvious, and if they can see it, they blatantly choose to ignore it. I've had people ask me, \”Why do all that work when you can just buy it at the store?\” But, a word of advice, the old World War II saying, \”Loose lips sink ships.\” Be careful who you tell of your preparations, because in desperate times, people will do desperate things. That good, decent, hard working man just down the road will do ANYTHING to feed his starving infant. It's not just if you tell your immediate group, it may be the person who they tell that is the dangerous individual. Fern and I agreed a good while back that we will feed and shelter her parents, and that's it. But, ironically, we used to give eggs to her parents, and they were promptly giving them to another loved one. So, be careful who you share information with. We have toned down our efforts of informing others to just about zero. That's why we chose pseudonyms and anonymity for this blog.Hang in there, Frank

  22. Thank you for giving this email so much thought and consideration. While I am frustrated by what I can not do for those around me, It is reassuring to realize that others who have been preparing far longer share that frustration. You have given me more to think about, and some great advice! Thank you.

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