Keeping preps a secret

A term that is often bandied about online in the various survival forums is “opsec.” This is military shorthand for Operations Security. (See sidebar below) Generally, as it relates to prepping, it refers to the idea of keeping your emergency preparations a secret from those outside your immediate family. The concern is that folks who know what you have may decide to take it from you in a crisis. Or if not outright steal it, they may become a burden on you by bugging you for assistance.

I’m of two minds on this. While I fully understand the need for some degree of secrecy, I also firmly believe in “spreading the word” about prepping and encouraging friends, neighbors, and family members to stock up on necessary supplies and such. When you do so, it is kind of assumed that you’ve already begun your own prepping.

Sure, many of us have heard the old, “Well, when a disaster hits, I know where I’m going!” from people who are referring to your home/retreat. And sadly, a fair number of people who say that would really follow through on it. I’d encourage you to decide NOW how you will handle that situation, should it come to pass.

Obviously, it isn’t the best idea in the world to lay out all your preps for folks to see. Don’t stack cases of canned goods in your living room, for example, then have people over for dinner. Keep things stored away, out of sight and out of mind. Don’t hand over complete inventory lists to casual friends, just to show off what you’ve accomplished.

But, don’t be afraid to broach the topic of prepping to friends and neighbors because you’re afraid they’ll figure out what you have and try to steal it. Put it this way, if you care enough about these folks to encourage them to make preparations, then you should have at least a modicum of trust in them to begin with, right?

Sidebar: If you are currently serving or formerly served in the military, first, thank you for service and second, please feel free to use all the military jargon you wish. However, if you’re not a veteran but still insist on using military speak like this in an effort to be cool, it is about as cool as buying a tricked out 4X4 with a stellar sound system, then cranking the soundtrack from Dirty Dancing as you cruise around town. Stop it.

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Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

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