Mutual Assistance Groups and Banding Together For Survival

Mutual Assistance Groups and Banding Together For Survival

Before we dive in, it must be said not everyone will be interested in a group. There are lone wolves with wilderness skills who plan to go into survival mode by living off the land.

Each one of us has a comfort zone. For most who have children or elderly family members or friends to watch over, surviving in place may be the best approach. There are positives to this, and there are negatives.

Just for the sake of argument, I’m a survive in place gal but I certainly see the wisdom of bugging out. There are many children in our group (in fact, one is about to be born) and a few who are too old to flee to the woods and expect to survive.

However, plans have been laid for those are able to take off if the time comes, the final outcome will be up to God. In the meantime, preparing as best we can is always wise.

Before you read on, please know the points discussed here are not meant to overwhelm. Just the opposite! Forewarned is forearmed. It is difficult for many of us to envision a time when everything we take for granted today suddenly disappears, and we must go into survival mode.

Why A Group?

There are many reasons to consider banding together with like-minded folks.The everyday chores we’ll be forced to do alone will make it difficult for the average person or family to get it all accomplished and still protect their home. Have a look:

  • Preparing food using alternative cooking will take longer when using bulk foods such as beans and rice (although the suggestions about using a pressure cooker is spot-on—just not split peas). There will be no popping meals into a microwave. However, solar ovens are a good workaround for those in a climate zone where they can be depended upon. You should also consider the work of grinding wheat and corn, manually—our group has already let the children have “fun” with this task.
  • Every-Day Needs: Grid Down may mean treks to an outhouse for some, and disposing of waste for others. This entails digging or plenty of walks outdoors for many who don’t have a septic tank. Floors will have to be swept, rather than vacuumed. Clothes will need to be mended, rather than replaced.
  • Hunting and fishing, when possible, is important to replenish food. This is time-consuming and will be physically demanding.
  • Canning and dehydrating foods takes time and physical energy.
  • Hand washing laundry and hanging it on the line and washing dishes by hand takes time and hard work.
  • Gardening is imperative for an ongoing food source. Again, this will eat up time and requires sweat equity!
  • Keeping children entertained may be more demanding, depending upon their age. There will be no TV’s or Nintendo. They will not be running to the neighbors to play with friends. We’ll discuss ideas about keeping them occupied, beyond helping with chores, in another post.
  • Drawing water from a well or spring, or collecting it from a nearby source will make heavy demands on your time and energy—a 5-gallon container of water weighs 41.75 lbs! Make sure to get a sturdy wheeled cart for hauling water from an offsite location. You will also be running water through a purifier, which may not be physically taxing, but will take time.
  • For those in a northern climate zone, tree-felling and chopping wood for heat is a must and will be time consuming and physically demanding! Same goes for those of us who plan to use a wood cook stove—this requires plenty of wood-splitting.
  • Repairs we once called the repair guy for will have to be done by you; again time consuming and can be physically taxing.
  • Safety! I saved one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for last, because we’ll pick up that thread below.

Think about all you’ll be doing each day to survive. With that in mind, do you believe a husband and wife and 2 children, or a couple, or a single person will be able to get everything done and then have the stamina to patrol the perimeter of their home during a time of social unrest?

This daunting list of tasks and chores is EXACTLY why you want to have a large stockpile of easy to cook food and easy to use supplies, including hygiene. This is not an either/or proposition. A stockpile of food and supplies will buy you the precious time that you will need to “glide” through short term disasters, and to transition into primitive living mode in medium to long term disasters.

As an example, if you’ve got a family of 4, a 50 gallon water heater, a 50 gallon barrel of water, a case of wet-wipes, and a good supply of canned foods, you won’t have to spend any time manually pumping or carrying water for disasters lasting into the 3-4 week range.)

In the city and in the country, folks will need to be prepared to protect their home. During a time of unruliness, many preppers plan to patrol parameters around the clock, so they can protect and defend BEFORE the bad guy shows. Many believe it will be physically impossible to perform everyday tasks a crisis brings and keep a home safe from looters and worse. This is why you hear of preppers banding together; to split up chores and still keep safety at the forefront.

Here’s where pre-planning can help! There are many ways to hook up with like-minded folks. But before we head there, it must be said to always approach this very carefully.

Seeking Outsiders

Many hard-core preppers are militant with regards to accepting others into their group, going as far as running a background check on newcomers. Meet in a neutral location a safe distance away from your location—always.

It may take several meetings before you’re able to get a feel for a stranger. Never give your location, real name, or phone number (block caller Id when communicating by phone and remember the reverse lookup). Do not hand over a laundry list of your preparedness goods, or discuss specifics of what you’ve put into place for survival until you have reason to believe you can trust a new contact.

Ask questions. What type of training do they have? What would they bring to the table? Then, ask yourself; will their training and preparedness be enough for you to want to plan a second meeting? Medical and tactical training is great if you can find someone with such skills. But so is someone who can weld, or do repairs, or knows how to sew, or understands communications, or can help watch over children. A hard worker, willing to share in the gardening, clothes washing, canning, food dehydration, or who will pitch in with water and sanitation needs will go a long ways to create a cohesive group.

Each of us has life situations that must be considered. If it’s likely a contact you meet expects to invite their extended family members to your place—better reconsider!

Most who go the route of recruiting strangers have strict guidelines: The newbie must be willing to provide a certain amount of food and preparedness goods BEFORE they’re accepted (typically one years supply of food storage and goods, and sometimes more), and these items MUST be stored at the bug out location before things go south.

To do otherwise will only put a drain on your resources, which will compromise the health and welfare of loved ones. They will also insist on sharing in the cost and sweat-equity of improvements like building an outhouse, or a smokehouse, or digging a root cellar, clearing land for a garden, or installing a manual hand pump to a well, etc., at the bug out location.

In an urban setting, it may mean they are expected to pitch in on alternative cooking, communications, medical supplies, square-foot gardening, water collection and purification and the like.

Extended Family

Now, this is a can of worms! I have NEVER met a die-hard prepper who hasn’t been challenged with trying to wake up clueless family members who continue to buy unnecessary luxuries, and treat everyday like it’s party time with no thought for tomorrow.

It’s my believe your turning them away or not comes down to your personality and may sometimes involve how much you are able to put aside. Will you say yes or to say no? Could you tell your third cousin removed to go away if they show up on your doorstep? You need to decide now, because it’s almost a given most of us into prepping are known by our family members, and they’ll be beating a path to our door at the first sign of trouble!

As mentioned in last week’s post, it isn’t always a negative to have relatives join you when things go south—IF they have something to offer. It must be a fair trade-out, or it becomes a drain on your resources and those closest to you will be put in jeopardy. Do they have a strong back, able to help with chores? Do they have training that will be beneficial when services are no longer available?

I have met many who have traded beans, bullets and band aids for know-how or a good work ethic—myself included. It’s possible to have a discussion and get a family members’ agreement, beforehand, of what is expected of them in order for them to be welcome.

Example: if they have welding skills, they would be expected to show up with a non-electrical powered welder, or they can keep walking. After all, if you are ponying up a portion or all of their food, or a safe location, they can’t expect you to morph into the welfare line in an emergency by showing up empty-handed.

It’s for certain ground rules must be established. Call it tough love. Everyone must either contribute and get along with others, or they are “voted off the island.” Period. Personally, my rules on this are set in concrete. The reason is simple: in a crisis, there will be no room for those wanting to dodge the workload, or spend their time whining and complaining.

This type of behavior will destroy the cohesiveness of the group, and everyone in the group is then put in jeopardy. My rules? Anyone acting up WILL be leaving for a one-week camping trip. Alone. Their return is contingent upon a new and improved attitude and is also based upon their willingness to contribute to the group—or they can keep walking. If their infraction is severe enough, they are out. Expecting cooperation over rules you set means discussing the rules and expectations before trouble starts.

Community Involvement

Community involvement can make a world of difference. If you are known to be a dependable, before a crisis, and if you have developed relationships with local authorities, the Church, or volunteer for such services as the volunteer fire department, or EMT services, not only will you gain valuable training, you’re likely be treated fairly in a time of collapse. After all, your expertise and level-headedness will be deemed valuable for the community’s survival!

This isn’t always the case as pointed out on the site, but for the most part, many folks can be trusted. This does not mean it’s wise to hand over the keys to your supply shed, though!

Getting involved, and making contacts can be as simple as increasing your hunting group. You’re much more likely to meet like-minded folks hunting then attending a Drag Race, right? What about forming a home canning group, as was suggested on this site? Ham Radio (to be discussed in another post at length) draws many independently-minded folks who are more likely to have an interest in prepping. Gun ranges and getting involved with archery is another meet-and-greet place.