Sometime after the cavemen learned to scrawl on walls, people have been using one form of media or another to teach and entertain. Whether information is disseminated on a scroll, bound in a book or downloaded onto an iPod, it all has the potential to educate.
In the past, it seemed as though people were expected to learn from stodgy sources like textbooks, manuals and field guides. This was particularly true for preparedness. While there is nothing wrong with those more formal materials, they often left others out of the loop. Not everyone enjoys or can stay awake during a technical dissertation on water purification.
Luckily, modern technology has brought us access to a lot of new ways to learn about survival and emergency preparedness. In fact, there’s now something for just about anyone who has a desire to learn about those weighty subjects.
For folks that learn best with a visual image to guide them, a search of Youtube.com will yield informational video tutorials about many aspects of preparedness.For those who need a story to help them to remember critical steps in emergencies, some of the post-apocalyptic fiction available in physical book or e-book formats might be more useful. Many who currently count themselves as preppers, got started because a particular end-of-the-world story really resonated with them and made them fearful for the safety of their kin.
When people are on the go and don’t have the time to read a book due to an over-burdened schedule, podcasts, online radio and audio books may be the solution for them. They can download these materials to a device like a smartphone, laptop, mp3 player or other device and listen while driving or performing another task. All of this is really good news for those of us who endeavor to encourage others to prepare. It means that we have varied ways and means to sell the message of preparedness to people who might not be open to hearing it.
Before launching into a diatribe about the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it with a friend, neighbor, or perfect stranger…stop to consider a few things:
1- Everyone has their own perspective of reality and theirs may not agree with yours. Try to find common ground so that they will be open to your message. Rather than talk about a real-life zombie apocalypse or an onslaught by stormtroopers, maybe it would be better to talk about being prepared for general inclement weather that your area might be prone to. This might include things like tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards or flooding. Cite articles that highlight some of the risks like average snowfall and hurricane wind speeds.
2- Not everyone is afraid of a food shortage. Instead of encouraging them to stock up on a 3 year supply of rice and beans, initiate a conversation about the high cost of groceries at the supermarket. Explain that you’ve found better prices per pound by buying larger packages of the foods that your family already eats. In this way, they will find the topic to be helpful rather than full of fear-mongering. By buying in larger quantities, they will automatically be increasing their food security for an emergency and they won’t even realize it.
3- Leave the conversation about guns and ammo for another time. Many people are uncomfortable with the topic and will try to disengage from you if you broach the subject. Instead, invite a friend to go fishing or hunting. Those activities are perfectly respectable ways to bond and build a friendship. They also work to encourage someone to purchase a deep freezer to store all of that extra meat and fish. They’ll figure out rather quickly that it only cost a few hours of time and a few cents worth of lead or bait to acquire it. Later, you can introduce them to the benefits of smoking the meat to enhance the flavor and to preserve it for storage. There are ample video tutorials on Youtube that can be used to illustrate your points.
4- Most people no longer know what made-from-scratch food tastes like. One of the easiest ways to encourage someone to garden and raise their own fresh food is to share some of yours. A jar of homemade jelly or jam can spark a conversation about the ease with which you can make your own and the fact that it is free of the chemicals that can be found in the store-bought varieties. There are many homesteading forums and Facebook community pages where people willingly share their tips and tricks.
5- Try to gauge the person that you are planning to engage. Is this a younger person who enjoys video games? Then Disaster Hero might pique his or her preparedness interest. Is this a serious individual that would be more impressed by facts? If so, you might want to lend a book or pamphlet from a mainstream source like FEMA or the Red Cross to illustrate a few generic points about preparedness. Is this someone who only reads fiction or watches movies? Maybe a movie like The Book of Eli or a novel about an EMP event or a pandemic would drive the point home far better than you could. Try to choose a novel with characters that the recipient can identify with. For men, you might try One Second After by William Forstchen, Lights Out by David Crawford, The End b G. Michael Hopf or The Survivalist by Arthur T. Bradley. Many women have difficulty identifying with a gun-toting male character for their first foray into post-apocalyptic fiction. The link below provides some ideas as to more comfortable reading options for women.
You should always try to make the interaction a good one, so that you are able to come back and share a little more information when it is appropriate. A hard- sell approach may work when liquidating used cars, but a soft-sell works best when you are attempting to get someone to modify their behavior. After all is said and done…we really just want more people to be better prepared for whatever hazards may come along.