If you’ve ever watched the show Doomsday Preppers, perhaps you’ve had the same question that I’ve had. Why would anyone who was a serious prepper go on nationwide television, saying that they are a prepper? Should there ever be a collapse of society, all those people have succeeded in doing is making themselves targets. Does that make any sense?
One of the basic beliefs of most preppers is that in a time of societal breakdown, the vast majority of people will be unprepared. As those people use up their meager food stocks, they will become desperate and seek out what else they can find. If they know where a prepper lives, you can pretty much count on them knocking on the door; either to beg some food or to take it by force.
That’s when things are going to get a little dicey for the preppers. The expectation is that those people will begin to band together, for the purpose of attacking those who have and forcibly taking it from them. Of course, that requires knowing who has enough to make it worthwhile attacking them.
That’s where OPSEC (operational security) comes in. OPSEC is a military concept of withholding information from the enemy. You have to assume that anyone and everyone out there will be your enemy, if society breaks down. So, if you don’t let people know what you have, they shouldn’t have any reason to attack you. So, you’ve got to do anything you can to make sure that you do things in such a way as to hide your plans and intentions.
We can break OPSEC down into two basic categories; the things you do while you are preparing and the things you do once a crisis happens. Both are important.
While you are prepping, you have to maintain secrecy. That’s a lot harder than you may think. You have a large number of people who you need to hide your actions and intentions from, such as neighbors, friends and family members. Of course, if those people are part of your survival plans, then you don’t need to worry about keeping things secret from them.
Neighbors are the hardest to hide things from, as they see you and what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis. So we’re going to focus on what you have to do to hide things from your neighbors.
OPSEC While Prepping
There are many temptations to do things in such a way as to make it obvious that you are prepping for the worst. That’s a big mistake. You want to make sure that all of your preps are well hidden and don’t look like what they are.
Hiding your stockpile
If you have a nice big empty basement, than you have a great place to store your stockpile. However, not all homes come equipped with such a basement. In that case, you have to be a bit more inventive about where you hide things. You don’t want people visiting your home to see a room full of extra food. Of course, you can solve that problem by simply closing the door to your storeroom.
When you get home from making a major purchase, don’t park your car in front of the house and unload it where everyone can see. Put it in the garage to unload it or put it in the backyard. If you have to, wait until nightfall, when people can’t see what you are doing.
Hiding things in plain sight
Another way of hiding things is to camouflage them, so people think they are something else. One of my favorite examples of this is storing water in a swimming pool. A swimming pool in your back yard can double as an emergency water supply, holding a couple of thousands of gallons of water. Nobody would expect it to be an emergency water supply, accepting it for what it represents itself to be.
If you want to build a cement wall in front of your house to help protect you, stifle those feelings. Instead, plant a good hedge, of some type of bushes which grow thorns. Allow it to grow about four feet tall and keep it trimmed that way. It will work as good as a cement wall and not be obvious.
Explain it Away
Some things can’t be hidden all that well or made to look like something else. In those cases, it can be useful to be able to explain your reason for having it as being something totally benign. We have a vegetable garden in our backyard, so I explain the water tank on the back porch and the well as being there for the vegetable garden. I tell the people that the tank holds a special fertilizer solution for the garden.
My neighbors all know that I’m a former engineer and I like to experiment with things. So, when they see me building a wind turbine or putting solar panels on the garage roof, they write it off to their “eccentric” neighbor messing around again. I don’t even have to explain it away, as they do so for me.
Don’t Talk About It
The absolute worst thing you can do when prepping for a disaster is tell people what you are doing. That means that your kids can’t talk about it either. This can cause a problem, as kids can’t keep secrets. So, you have to give the kids a ready explanation for the things you do, so that they won’t accidentally spill the beans for you.
One way to do this is to make your prepping and survival such a normal part of your life, that it doesn’t seem important to the kids. Make a habit of going camping and use that time to teach your kids how to survive in the wilderness. For all they know, they’re learning how to start a fire and tie knots. They won’t naturally make that connection that it’s actually survival training until they need it.
OPSEC when Things Turn Bad
Your OPSEC doesn’t stop just because the disaster has hit. You need to continue it. This can even be harder than maintaining OPSEC during your prepping time. You have to blend in with society and look like you’re living like everyone else.
If there’s a food shortage and people are losing weight, you need to be losing weight as well. If people don’t have electricity, you don’t want light blazing from your windows at night. As much as possible, blend in with everyone else.
One of the sure signs that you’re better off than anyone else is when you are cooking food, while everyone else is doing without. Food odors can carry a long way, advertising to the whole world that you have food to cook. You want to be careful to disguise those odors and hide them as much as possible. If nothing else, wait to cook meats and other highly aromatic foods until others are asleep.