Can you depend on your neighbors in a crisis?

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 by

( One of the disadvantages of our technology-heavy society today is that as we’ve become more connected to devices and on-demand TV, we have become less connected with the “reality” that surrounds us. We have increasingly withdrawn from the insanity of the daily grind and insulated ourselves from the outside with gadgets, infotainment and anything else we could use to wall off the world.

And while we’ve done this in large part to preserve our sanity, at the same time we might just be hurting our chances at surviving a long-term societal emergency simply because we don’t know anyone who lives near us well enough to trust them – and they may be very trustworthy (and useful).

Do you know who your neighbors are – what they do for a living, what their interests are, if they have special skills, if they seem like they’d be reliable partners? After all, the better you know someone, the more trustworthy they become – right?

No one knows how they or anyone else will actually react in an emergency – unless, of course, you’ve been in that situation before (or maybe deployed in a war zone). But one of the biggest hurdles in an emergency will be trust; if you can’t trust your neighbors and they can’t trust you, then you’ll likely both be setting yourselves up to fail.

Let’s face it, in a situation where society is collapsing – due to a financial emergency or war, or an outbreak – people who can band together to form a solid group have a much better chance of surviving long-term.

If you’re a fan of the hit AMC network show The Walking Dead, you know that by now, on Season Six, the “walkers” – that is, the undead zombies – are the least of anyone’s problems. Rather, the series has settled in to focus on how groups of the living survive. No one is making it alone; in fact, the post-apocalypse social structure that currently defines the nature of the series is one of tribalism: Groups, or tribes, of people who are competing for remaining resources, power and control. But the point is, people have banded together in groups with others whose trust they have earned and who have earned their trust in return, because that’s the best way to survive.

“It’s a simple rule of civilization that a healthy, interactive neighborhood is much preferable to one with abandoned houses and no communication among neighbors. The latter welcomes crime and uncertainty, the former allows neighbors to support each other so everyone is kept safe,” writes Jim Acosta at The Survival Mom.

“Disasters can attract predators of the human variety, whether they be faux contractors looking to scam victims with a repair scheme, your basic thief looking for loot to pawn, or opportunists squatting in an abandoned home, they will thrive if your normal network of communications among neighbors is disrupted,” he added.

So the answer, then, is simple: Get out of your bubble and get out into your neighborhood. Getting to know your neighbors is best done before you need to rely on them in an emergency.

Think of it as a job interview, of sorts: Who would you hire to work with you when stuff hits the fan? Inevitably there will be neighbors you won’t want to have anything to do with and don’t believe you’ll ever be able to trust, so isn’t it best to figure out who those neighbors are beforehand?

Also, if you’re a reader, chances are good that you’re one of the minority of prepared people in your neighborhood, given that most people are not preppers and are, therefore, not prepared for an emergency. But having said that, your ability to remain relatively safe in your neighborhood during a disaster will depend a lot on how safe your neighbors feel in their homes. Your decision to stay and fight or defend the ‘hood may be all that some neighbors who are on the fence about staying need in order to become confident enough to stick around and help out.

Finally, getting to know – and to trust – neighbors will enable you to gauge whether you can breach the subject of prepping with them, and perhaps encourage them to prepare (if they’re not already) for an unforeseen emergency. Having a neighborhood with more preppers than mouths to feed is, of course, a distinct survival advantage. is part of the USA Features Media network.


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