Many people have asked me about what’s the hardest thing I had to deal with since I’ve started writing about prepping and survival. Of course, most of you would say that hitting the books or reviewing survival gear are the trickiest parts, but no — it’s convincing others why prepping is essential. Sure, it’s easy to speak in front of a group of people who either do this for a living or are interested in the topic. Here’s one for you — how likely are you to convince your mom, dad, grandparents or in-laws to create a household emergency kit or to take a first-aid class? Let me answer this one on your behalf: too hard and, at times, downright impossible.
A while back, I was sitting on the patio with mom, dad, and my in-laws. We were chatting about humdrum stuff like the weather, dad’s diabetes, father-in-law’s arthritis, mom’s cooking. At one point, my mother-in-law turned towards me, looked me straight in the eye with that steely gaze of hers and said: “And what exactly did you say you’re doing, Eddie? Hiking? Backpacking?”.
Have to confess that her tone irked me a bit, but I kept calm and explained again about my prepping editorship. Slowly, but surely, I magically managed to turn around the entire conversation. So instead of chatting about nonsensical stuff, I got to explain a bit to everyone what prepping is and why is so important.
Of course, I couldn’t avoid questions like: “do I need a tinfoil hat or something to join this religion of yours?” I didn’t mind. It’s only natural to be suspicious about this sort of thing, especially when bias comes into play. Fast-forwarding a bit in time, I am now proud to share with you guys that mom, dad, and in-laws have joined our prepping community. More than that, they are very active members on our website, and I would often catch them reading STHF articles.
Can you really have the talk with your folks?
Anyway, to broach today’s topic, there are a lot of very good reasons why you should openly discuss prepping with your parents, their health and wellbeing counting among them. Far too many times, I’ve seen active individuals turn into couch potatoes after retirement. Take my dad, for instance. He would hit the gym at least three times a week after work and cycle every other Sunday.
After he retired, dad’s best friend became the remote control, and the only kind of activity that would even come close to exercising was opening the fridge’s door to get another beer. Yes, I know it’s sad, but you can’t actually argue with them.
Tried that and each time I would hit the same brick wall: “Son, I earned the rest. You’ll understand this when you’ll be my age.” You’re probably familiar with this kind of phrasing. All of us are. And, it’s very difficult to try to convince someone who’s twice your age or more than you know what you’re talking about — yes, the generation gap exists, and that old man stubbornness is the worst enemy a caring person could face.
Which brings us to the first argument on our list — waving your magic want to turn your parents into active people once more. As most of you know, most adults after the age of 50 find themselves in the positions of dealing with all manner of chronic illnesses: heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, bladder issues, kidney afflictions, an enlarged prostate in men, osteoporosis. And the list goes on. Help your parents live a better and healthier senior life by showing them a couple of simple activities that involve prepping. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.
- Teach them how to build home emergency kits and go with them to the store for supplies. Keep their minds busy by asking them to draw up shopping lists. Don’t give in to their pleas: “Son, I’m not feeling like prepping today. Would you mind going out for some shopping?” There will be none of that from now on.
- Practice emergency drills with them. Take your pick: drop-roll-and-hold, drop-and-hold, home evacuation via pre-established emergency routes, hunkering down in the basement or the safety room. Don’t overdo it, though, and do not try to up the pace. Keep in mind that your parents are not as spry as they once had been. You should also take their health into account — some of them might have illnesses that could put too much strain on the body.
- Convince them to learn new skills. For instance, my folks had no clue how stuff around the housework. If something broke down, they would either call in a pro or buy a new one. Making them take some repair lesson is good for the brain. In fact, each medical article you would read on dementia and Alzheimer’s states the positive effects of learning new skills all the time.
- Ask them to tag along during one of your Go Bag training sessions. A great exercise for cardiovascular disease prevention is jogging. Us preppers usually build endurance and back strength by talking long walks with our Go Bags. You can skip the backpack part if their doctor says otherwise. Keep a steady pace and don’t let them fall behind. You can even show them how far they’ve progressed by sharing results from your Fitbit watch or smartphone application.
Mom, Dad! Are you in on this?
The second reason why prepping’s good for your folks has very much to do with their way of thinking. Most of our parents and grandparents, were down-to-earth, hardworking people, which means that value common sense above anything else.
And since prepping is deep-rooted in it, learning to get ready for anything is only a natural extension. Keep in mind that you will no doubt encounter this sort of suspicion regarding prepping. This can easily be countered by offering a couple of simple examples based on everyday scenarios.
For instance, my dad always had to use his lighter or anything he had on hand to inspect the underside of the family van. This would mostly happen during trips across rocky terrain. One way of explaining prepping to a person like my dad would be to point out that a fully charged flashlight tucked inside the glove box would have helped him more in case of such emergencies than fumbling around with lighters, matches or other light sources. See? It’s that easy.
Let me point out a couple of more scenarios which you can use to describe prepping to your folks:
- Emergency generators. Tell your folks that the most logical approach to living in a blackout-prone zone (check out the news on the Venezuelan power grid failure) would be to buy a gas-powered generator. That way, you won’t have to worry about food spoiling in the fridge or breaking into the water supplies became the electric pump in the basement went out with the light.
- Losing the bus. Imagine that you have to take the bus each time you need to get into town. If you miss that bus, the next would be to call someone at home and say that you’re going to be late. I know it’s a stupid example, but it’s how prepping works — by calling that person you let him, or she knows your location, the reason of your delay, and what to tell the authorities in case you fail to show up at home.
- Emergency evacuation. In case you are told to leave the house, the first thing you should take is your Go Bag. Apart from knowing the escape routes, your folks should also know how to prepare an emergency backpack. Ask them to draw up a list of things they cannot do without hearing aids, canes, whistles, BP monitor, prescription glasses. Be sure to point out that the Go Bag has limited space, which means that they need to carefully consider the items. More than that, do not forget to remind them of the golden rule: everything you take, you’ll have to carry.
My giveaway to you is this: don’t try to impose your lifestyle and choices upon your parents or loved ones. You should point out to your folks that prepping is more of a mind-conditioning kind of thing, rather than a set of actions based on hindsight or SHTF way of thinking.
Baby-step it, explain everything as many times as necessary, and always keep in mind that they’re your parents, not some bored students who dropped by your class for extra credits. It’s much difficult to change one’s mindset, but everything can be accomplished with the right attitude and, of course, as much prepping as possible.