Being a female emergency preparedness enthusiast in my late twenties definitely sets me apart from many of the people in my age group.
I was born in a volatile country where your financial savings and assets were never safe in the hands of the banks or the government. My hometown was a fairly safe place to grow up in, but crime and assaults were all too common throughout the country. Twenty-some-years later, things have increasingly gotten worse. People live in constant fear of the future yet they are mentally prepared for anything.
I moved to the United States when I was seven, so I was too young to understand the governmental and societal instability of my country, but I did experience it indirectly through the troubles my parents were faced with. Even though every country has its flaws, the United States has provided my family (and millions of others) a much more stable place to live. This is a place where abundance flows and where the lack of food, water, shelter, and basic supplies are not as exposed as they are in many third-world countries.
One of the things I believe my generation, and those younger than myself, have a hard time grasping is what it looks like to not have anything. Walk into any store and you’ll notice that store shelves are always stocked. Homes are equipped with warm water, air conditioning and heating systems. I’m certain that many people have lost everything they owned to natural disasters, but after such events, government and non-government agencies show up to distribute assistance and provide for the immediate needs of those affected.
What I’m trying to get at here is that I’m concerned for the individuals who are so comfortable in their current place of “abundance.” I know far too many people who ignore the obligation to become prepared for future emergencies. Learning how to survive and fend for yourself and your family after a crisis is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, that idea doesn’t resonate completely with younger generations— I’m not saying it’s their fault.
The struggle of motivating others, especially younger generations, to become emergency prepared is real, but not impossible! You’d be surprised how many people are actually interested in the subject of preparedness but aren’t fully committed because they haven’t been taught or encouraged.
I must add that there are some people, unfortunately, who could care less about the subject and trying to motivate them will be exhausting for you and probably useless. You will have to make peace with that reality. Don’t waste time trying to convince anyone of anything— lead by example and let people become convinced themselves in their time.
12 Ways to Encourage Others to Prepare for Emergencies
The following list of tips are some of the things that have worked for me in spreading the word about practical preparedness and the importance of self-sustainability and survival.
1. Be genuine and open to help.
If preparedness is a passionate topic for you, there’s no shame in sharing what you love with your peers- just know that not everyone will be equally as enthusiastic and that’s okay! If people find interest in your passion, become a resource for them and be open-minded about their questions, even the seemingly foolish ones. A lot of people don’t know where to begin when it comes to preparedness and the thought alone can be overwhelming. You were probably in the same place at some point, so use your experience to guide new preppers. For those who show no interest whatsoever in preparedness, accept it and move on. Don’t be pushy. Build trust with those people instead, and if they’re ever in need of prepping advice, they’ll probably come to you.
2. Appeal to the emotions of the youth and know what inspires them.
By learning more about a person’s interests and motivations, we can understand how to approach them better. My desire to become prepared did not come from someone telling me over and over again that the world was going to end. In fact, fear is not a motivator and that approach only pushed me away from wanting to learn about preparedness. What really tugged at my heart was participating in events that showed me the effects of natural disasters and crises. Getting a feel for the true impacts of disasters gave me a fresh perspective about what it means to be prepared.
3. Promote preparedness as a way to stay in control of your life after an emergency.
Many people find comfort in the moments when they’re in control of a situation. During a disaster, grasping to regain control of our lives can be difficult and frustrating. Engage the youth in an exercise that would help them learn how becoming prepared for difficult times will help them feel more in control of their circumstances in the future. As an example, if you have a backpack with enough supplies to sustain you for the next 72 hours plus copies of your most important personal documents, your immediate needs will likely be met and your recovery process post-disaster will be a lot less of a headache since you will already have physical proof of your identity, insurance, etc.
4. Invest your time and impart your wisdom.
Older generations should be devoting some of their time and knowledge to younger generations— after all, they are the future. Our world is moving at a much faster pace now than ever before, so it’s necessary to keep up with the changes while instilling values and skills before they’re lost. In generations past, the grandparents would pass on the family lessons, stories, recipes, survival skills, wisdom, and beliefs to their children and grandchildren. This cycle would ideally repeat itself. As generations change and evolve, this is becoming less common. In my case specifically, I grew up in a different country than my grandparents so our family reunions were seldom and I didn’t have a chance to learn much from them. Any lessons that I could have learned have been lost forever and that’s a real shame. Any preparedness skills you have should be taught and shared— teaching is a major component of motivating the youth. With that in mind, think about ways that you can set up a course or training to instruct your local community.
5. Teach practical and relevant topics.
When I mention preparedness to any of my friends, they immediately think of underground bunkers and civilians wearing gas masks. This is not the world we live in— hopefully it will never get to that. In any case, approaching the topic on a relational level makes a big difference in growing interest among people. These are some of the topics you can address in your preparedness group or meet-ups. I guarantee it will draw in crowds of all ages.
- Developing cooking skills.
Some ideas include: baking bread, cooking without electricity, making a sun oven from a pizza box, substituting animal-based ingredients in meals, crockpot meals, using a pressure cooker, instant pot recipes, and meal planning. You can have a night where you teach people how to make their own freezer meals and allow them to take theirs home.
- Food storage and rotation.
Some ideas include: mentioning which foods have the longest shelf life, how to rotate your food storage, and food preservation techniques such as freeze-drying and canning. You can have a potluck where everyone brings a dish made using only ingredients from their storage supply, or a tasting party where you try meals from different long-term food storage companies. While everyone is tasting the food, you can give demonstrations, lessons, and/or worksheets.
- Shopping on a budget.
For instance, you can discuss how to maximize weekly or monthly budgets to meet basic needs and how to save money or buy other goods for future use. Many people live paycheck to paycheck so think of practical ways people can become prepared in affordable ways. Maybe take a group on a grocery store field trip and show them how to shop on a budget.
- Job insecurity and managing money during difficult financial times.
Learning how to set up an emergency fund is vital, especially for teens and young families that are in the process of becoming financially independent. You can also teach budgeting tips to university students and highlight money-saving apps that could help them stay on track.
- How to build a 72-hour kit.
A bug out bag course could bring a lot of value to people who are not sure how to start their kits. You can also talk about building a hygiene kit.
- Tips to become self-sufficient.
Some lesson ideas include water storage and purification, growing your own veggie garden, how to make hand soap/ laundry detergent, and identifying local edible and medicinal plants in the wild. You can take the group on a hike into the woods and practice building a temporary shelter and a fire (in permitted areas only!).
- Important documents needed after an emergency.
Explain which documents are necessary to keep copies of and places where it would be safe to store them.
- Natural disasters that are likely to occur in your area.
Learn which disasters your state or city is prone to and bring awareness to those specifically. You can discuss how and where to evacuate if necessary, and how to meet up with family members who are not home at the time of a disaster.
- Developing cooking skills.
6. Be diverse in how you teach preparedness skills.
Consider that there are several styles of learning and every person responds differently to each. Here are some ideas to get your creativity flowing. A visual learner may enjoy seeing before and after pictures of a disaster as well as graphics depicting the cost associated with the rebuilding or recovery of a community. An auditory learner may enjoy participating in group discussions. Reading and writing learners may learn best if they’re taking notes, or seeing a worksheet that matches your presentation. Kinesthetic learners are the hands-on type who learn best by doing. Include exercises where people can practice the lesson you’re teaching. The bottom line here is: tailor your lessons so that they’re engaging for multiple styles of learning.
7. Meet the youth where they’re at - literally!
Our world is not limited by face-to-face interactions anymore. In fact, over 90% of teenagers use social media and the majority are active on two or more platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc. If you’re passionate about speaking to the youth, you will have to find creative ways to connect with them over social media. Here’s an idea- considering that learning via online courses and video is on the rise, you can start a YouTube channel geared toward the younger crowd. YouTube is a fast way to spread your message and appeal to mass audiences of any age. If you’re planning to host an event in person, I highly recommend using social media for marketing and advertising. If possible, you should post live videos of the event so those who couldn’t go still have an opportunity to follow along and possibly join you at another time.
8. Use apocalyptic or prepper movies and video games.
Post-apocalyptic movies have huge mass appeal! Inject humor and movie references in the way you approach the topic of preparedness. Natural disasters are nothing to laugh about, but the principles and skills that can be learned by prepping don’t have to be boring. Find out which movie or video game is popular amongst the youth at the moment and incorporate some themes, soundtracks, or quotes as part of your message. This will keep their attention focused on you longer and also bridge the gap between the interests of two different generations.
9. Use door prizes or take-home gifts as motivators.
The city of Los Angeles hosts an annual preparedness fair and one of the tactics they use to draw people in is by giving each family a basic 72-hour preparedness kit. Of course you don’t have to give away the same prize but if for instance you’re teaching a course on canning, you can have each person take home a jar of food you canned.
10. Include children and friends in your workshops/ events.
People love to feel like they’re a part of something. If your event allows for participation, allow the youth to get involved. You can do this by making them a contributor or a leader in the lesson you’re presenting. You can also try to team up with the local Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop for age diversity and collaboration. Let me give you a personal example. Years back our preparedness group held one of its regular weekly meetings. We were learning the protocols for search and rescue operations immediately after the occurrence of a disaster. When we did the hands-on practice, we took the group around the building to identify vulnerable places of entry. The team was confronted with a young kid on the floor who had fallen off of his bike and “bleeding” in several places. Of course we staged the scene and we used ketchup to mimic blood, but it worked to help the group get comfortable assisting a victim and the kid who played the part was excited to be a participant.
11. Consider family and personal needs.
Some young families don’t have the extra money to spend on babysitters, so they may skip going to events for this reason. If you welcome a family-friendly environment, you may see a better turnout. Children are eager learners, so offer some activities that they could benefit from as well. Giving people the opportunity to invite their friends makes them more likely to attend because will go to the event already knowing someone.
12. Invite a survivor to share their story.
Hearing the story of someone who has lived through a survival scenario or natural disaster can positively influence a listening crowd. The experience they lived can bring light to the importance of preparedness and lessons learned.
Well, there you have it— twelve tips on how to motivate others to become emergency prepared! These tips don’t solely apply to younger generations, so I encourage you to not limit your efforts to them. Share preparedness with your friends, their kids, your neighbors, and your church or club.
The trick is to focus on making preparedness fun and engaging for all ages and all learning styles. I’m sure you can have a great impact in your community when you share the things you love with enthusiasm and passion! All the best in your endeavors! 🙂
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