Before offering my opinion on why we should try to include as many people in our circle of support, especially family, friends and neighbors, rather than sit around planning who we’re going to shun in an emergency for failing to meet our prepper expectations, I want to clarify that when I suggested not getting worked up by viral videos & photos until you have more information, it wasn’t to suggest that all videos and photos are “fake news,” although many of them are dishonest partisan agitation propaganda (see examples like the Covington video or the Lincoln Project staging a fake white supremacists group at a Youngkin campaign event in VA a couple days ago), or they don’t provide enough information to help you make good decisions.
The shortage crisis is real and it’s projected to get much worse. There is a global economic crisis.
The global economy system is very complex and I don’t even have a clue as to all the factors creating this crisis, but our government officials report the problem is serious and projected to worsen, as do all sorts of legitimate experts – so, yes the shortage crisis is real. The problem with relying on some viral video or shortage information from even trusted family or friends who live across the country from you or who you talk to on social media is what they are experiencing may not be what’s going on in your local grocery stores And here’s where having more information is what we really need, before rushing out to the store based on “did you see all those photos and videos online of empty shelves?” or “I heard on social media, blah, blah, blah.” So far there are some items that there’s been a widespread shortage – for instance hay, lumber or canning lids for home canners, etc. but for general grocery items, the availability can vary at online retailers, stores around the country and even within your own local area.
It seems to me we’re all going to have to take a little more time to shop strategically, if we’re going to locate the foods we want and try to find food items that keep us within our budgets, especially with inflation climbing. Staying calm as we all try to navigate through this crisis will help us not only weather this crisis, if you have kids it will help them adjust and adapt to these chaotic and uncertain times. You can not possibly assess and respond well to a protracted economic crisis, if you spend everyday getting angry at people who aren’t preparing as you think they should and running around every single minute in crisis mode. In fact, the more you react emotionally, the poorer your information analysis becomes. Plus, other emergencies can surely come along and we’ll have to deal with them too. Weather emergencies are pretty common, the COVID situation is still with us, there’s a lot of political turmoil, and even personal emergencies and the list goes on.
Showing a little grace and kindness to others will go way further than spending your time fuming about friends and family who aren’t preparing like you are, while still encouraging them to prepare.
Now to a few personal stories. In January of this year, my youngest daughter, son-in-law and infant grandson in TX experienced the grid failure during a winter storm. Naturally, I had been urging my daughter to prepare and when I warned about a power outage, she told me there was no need to worry about that, because the power lines are underground where she lives. I told her that didn’t mean the grid can’t go down.
So, when the power outage happened, naturally, I was upset that she had dismissed my concerns. I sent her a link from The Provident Prepper on how to survive a winter emergency and offered some ideas. In my mind, I was thinking, “Why didn’t she take my concerns seriously?” and of course, I was worried.
I was on the phone with one of my sisters in PA, who is retired from the Air Force and served in Afghanistan. I was telling her about this and she told me she had talked to my daughter too and she didn’t think my daughter ignored me and she told me she was sure that my daughter and her husband, both in their mid-30s, married over a decade, were going to do everything possible to keep the baby, their first child, safe.
So, I thought about it and I had to be honest with myself about my prepping – especially the stockpiling basics and trying to think about every what-if imaginable vs. my daughter and son-in-law’s emergency skills. On my side I like having lots of supplies, I did a lot of family support volunteer work when my husband was in the Army and I spent a few years as a Red Cross volunteer casework chair at an Army post we were at, providing emergency communications services and emergency assistance to soldiers and their families. I trained volunteer caseworkers, working alongside the paid Red Cross staff. So, okay, I had some experience, but here’s the thing, my daughter was in a Boy Scout Explorer group as a teenager, that met at a local fire company and she took state-certified fire-fighting training, to include extracting people from burning vehicles. Right out of high school she took an EMT course and she worked at a local hospital doing admissions at the ER. My son-in-law was in the Army when they got married. He served in Iraq as a combat medic.
The other truth is in a real SHTF situation they would both be much calmer in a crisis than I am, because I worry a lot. I’m better at something like handling Red Cross emergency communications or cooking food or baking cookies to help people rather than dealing with blood and guts stuff. They made a blanket tent, kept tabs on the temp. situation, in their house, talked to two friends in the area, who had gas heat still working, so they went to one of their friends. I had urged my daughter to decide before it got dark if they were going to go to one of their friends, to avoid traveling on icy roads in the dark and they did that.
I mentioned Desert Storm in a few posts and that’s because I learned a lot from that experience. The rumor mill among Army wives is something to behold, when the husbands are away on field training exercises, but having them actually deploy to war was surreal. That rumor mill, which you can get a smidgeon of a taste watching the social media drama, isn’t just benign, it can severely damage morale of troops, if they call their wives and start worrying. In the Army it’s part of commanders’ responsibilities to try to provide information to dispel rumors. Many of the wives who had a lot of problems were the ones who believed every rumor that circulated.
Before the ground war, a doctor from the Army hospital at Frankfurt called me to see if I could bring my youngest daughter, who was 3, down there for a non-emergency surgical procedure, that she was on a waiting list for. They were trying to utilize the empty operating rooms, while the hospital was preparing for potential casualties. I was having some car problems, so I asked the doctor if I could call back in a few hours and see if I could work out arrangements. The doctor wanted to do the procedure and keep my daughter overnight, so I had to find transportation to Frankfurt and someone to watch my other 3 kids overnight. A close friend told me she would pick-up my kids and keep them overnight and she lived in the housing area where the elementary school was located. She said she could take them to school and pick them up too.
A young wife of one of the soldiers in my husband’s company stopped by my house and she had a problem child young wife with her – one who was always worked up about something. I told them that I was trying to find transportation to Frankfurt and the one wife told me she could take me down to Frankfurt, but she had something going on and couldn’t pick me up the next day. The problem child wife immediately told me she could pick up my daughter and me in Frankfurt the next day. I asked her if she was sure and she told me she’d love to help. Just like that a problem wife solved my problem. I am grateful to this day.
So here’s another reality check about my stockpiling extra food and supplies, not to mention my mountain of craft and needlework supplies. I don’t have stuff stacked up like in one of those episodes of Hoarders, but invariably my closets and cupboards are full and I continually cart extra stuff and stick it in the garage. When my youngest daughter was a teenager, as the older kids left home, I turned the smallest bedroom into my craft/sewing room and the whole room was more like an overstuffed closet. My youngest daughter many times went in there and organized everything, labeled containers, and cleaned it so there were clear work surfaces while I was at work. She couldn’t stand my clutter. She did the same thing with my cupboards and pantry and she tossed canned goods past the best buy date, which I don’t do, then she organized everything. She’s also helped me clean out the garage two or three times when she’s been home visiting, so I am trying to do better at organizing.
One time, many years ago, I had an Indian meal moth situation in my kitchen and ordered moth traps from amazon. My daughter helped me clean out all of my cupboards. One really useful thing I learned watching a lot of YouTube videos was about proper food storage, which prompted me to start using the foodsaver my youngest daughter had given me years before and that I had tried once and put away. I use mylar bags with oxygen absorbers now too. No lie, yesterday she sent me a text message with info about McCormick spices in the can are at least 25 years old and she wrote, “You probably have some of these.” LOL. I don’t actually, I had read that a few years ago and found a few cans in the back of my spice cupboard and tossed them.
My youngest daughter is never going to stockpile groceries like I do – and I understand her point of view, even if I think it’s wiser to have a large stockpile of food, water and supplies. I tell my youngest daughter that she’s just like my mother, who ruthlessly purged unused stuff around our house… and lectured me that I was turning into a packrat, just like my grandmother. It skips generations in my family, I think.
And finally, here’s the thing, most emergencies you encounter are around your home and community, even most car accidents happen close to home. Your desired prepper friends, who meet your prepping standards, likely won’t be around you, but your family, friends and neighbors will. And that’s the number one reason that especially in an emergency you should do your best to work together. Several times I’ve seen flood news stories over the years from the Midwest, where there are people who lost their homes to a flood, working in a nearby town filling sandbags and trying to help other people save their homes. I remember a young man telling a reporter that there was nothing they could do about their home, so they decided to try to help people in the next town. That’s the kind of emergency response attitude, I think would serve us better than all this fuming about people who aren’t prepping like we think they should. And of course, it’s good to continue to encourage people to prepare and try to provide accurate and helpful information too.