Know Thy Neighbor, A Community Preparedness Guide: Survival 101

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By Bryan Lynch •  10 min read

A common theme or popular perspective of survival minded people is that they obtain all essential supplies possible, shut the windows, lock the doors, and hide in their homes. 

Community Preparedness Guide

I am positive that some individuals fully believe in this method and some situations may call for this behavior, but by in large it is not a healthy outlook when preparing for emergencies, specifically as it pertains to long-term disasters.

I do not think there is a person reading this that can say they do not depend on anyone else for anything. 

Unless you live in a completely wild environment growing your food, making your clothes, and processing everything else that one needs or wants in life, then you depend on someone else for something at some point.

I know that the above might seem like an extreme example but take a moment and think about your life and how you live. I can think of several things I depend on others for, especially as it relates to good and services.  

I am also sure that there are those reading this saying, “I have five years’ worth of food and supplies and do not need anyone else.” 

Sadly, there is a lot that can wrong with that statement which I will delve into shortly. 

Maybe it is ego, self-delusion, fear, or just overconfidence that makes people think they can close the doors to their home and shut themselves off from the rest of the world in the event of an emergency. 

The above mentality goes along with the lone wolf approach. Again, while this method has its place, it too is a difficult way of life to maintain long term.

Now, I am not saying that self-isolation or the long wolf approach cannot be done or that there are situations that do not call for those responses. What I am saying is that those approaches have been popularized as to what people should do and I think that could not be further from the truth.

So, is there a better solution to shutting yourself off from the rest of the world? I think so. 

Building off and maintaining the current community you are in is one of the best ways to prepare for any emergency. Not only is it healthier, but in almost every respect it is more logical. 

Reasons for A Community Approach 

It is not realistic to believe one person can take care of everything all the time, and to be honest, why would you want to? 

Using the existing community that you live in provides several benefits that can far exceed the options available in self-isolation or extremely small groups. 

Physical Resources 

No matter how much we think we are prepared for an emergency, it is likely that there will be at least one or several resources that were simply forgotten about or could not be purchased in a timely manner.  

I experienced this on a small scale recently when a storm moved through the region and knocked out the power to the town I live in. I thought I had a container of batteries stashed away that I could use for replenishing several flashlights. 

However, when I opened the cabinet they were in, I discovered a container with only one battery left. Since the town was without power I could not run to the store for more. Luckily, I was able to set up an alternative light source but if I could not, there are a few neighbors that would have given me a few batteries. 

Another aspect to think about when it comes to stockpiled resources, is that there is no guarantee all of those supplies will be good when you need them

Bugging In

What if when you start digging into that one-year emergency food supply you discover it was a bad batch and is not safe to consume? Or some other factors such as heat, cold, water, animals, or critters manage to affect it?

Do you have an immense number of backups for your food, water, medical supplies, and other gear items?

There have been more than a few times I have lost gear or emergency food to factors I did not anticipate or just bad luck. If this happens just prior to or during a disaster it would be nice to have a community that could lend out resources to help a person get back on their feet.


This is probably one of the most underrated concerns that people’s overconfidence gets in the way of.

Many people like to indulge in the idea that they are a one-man or woman army that will be able to defend against any threat as if they are Rambo or John Wick. 

Firstly, I would argue that most people simply do not have the proper training for this approach. 

Secondly, take a moment to look around the area in which you live. Are you really set up to defend against a range of threats from any direction all by yourself or even with a small group?

Lastly, a person must sleep. There is almost no way a single person can maintain security twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Fatigue can be powered through but at some point, the body will crash and force you to sleep. 

Who will be looking over you when you are counting sheep?


During a long-term disaster, there will most likely be a high physical workload. This could involve creating and maintaining gardens, hunting, fishing, gathering food, collecting water, watching over children, and addressing security concerns, just to name a few. 

There is an old saying, “many hands make light work.”

The more people there are working on a project, the quicker it will get done with less energy used. Plus, there may be some projects a single person just cannot physically accomplish.  


We all have various skillsets; some are specialized, and some are not. A single person may have the knowledge to tackle a lot of different tasks, but it is not realistic to believe one person can know everything. 

The more people there are in a group, the more skillsets there will be for the group to draw from. Here is a small list of skills that will be important to have during difficult times.

Are you proficient in all these areas? I know that I am not, which is why I would welcome the help of others during a disaster. 

Injury or Illness 

We do not like to think about being sick or injured but rather that nothing can ever put us down. 

This is unrealistic and health concerns are an eventuality that must be planned for. During hard times people will have a higher chance of becoming ill or injured due to more physical activity being done, poor diet, not enough sleep, stress, and other factors. 

If you break a leg or become bedridden, who will take care of you? How will you get water, food, or accomplish anything that must be done? 

Having a community of people that can check in on you and help with chores will be essential to survival in this situation


By our very nature, humans are social creatures and to isolate ourselves is not only lonely but can be unhealthy.

Having a group of people to converse with and share ideas with, greatly aids in maintaining a positive and healthy outlook while keeping a person productive in what needs to be accomplished. 

Know Thy Neighbor 

Getting Started 

The first thing that needs to be done is to create relationships where there are none. 

If you already know your neighbors then good for you, if you do not, then get ready to knock on some doors and put a smile on your face!

One of the best ways to get to know your neighbors is to have a grill out. This can be done at a specific house or it can be turned into a neighborhood grill out that takes place on the front yards of several properties where everyone can mingle.

Everyone loves a good meal and a grill out offers good food as well as the opportunity for people to socialize and to get to know one another. 

Once good relationships have been established the topic of prepping can be eased into by suggesting the formation of a neighborhood watch. This will get people into the mindset of watching out for others within the neighborhood and community at large. 

Once people are on board with working together during an emergency, the rest of the following categories can be addressed. 

Determining Strength

One of the most important strengths of a community is going to come from the people, their abilities, and skills. 

Find out what skills everyone has and assign duties based on that information. For example, if someone has a background in the medical field then that person should be designated as the community doctor. 

It is not a good idea to try and force someone into a duty they do not want to do. But if they have a background in that job then they will most likely be willing to carry it, just make sure the choice is theirs.

Determining Weaknesses

Using the above example, maybe there is not a person within the neighborhood who has a medical background.

This would be a deficit but someone who has an aptitude and interest in learning this field could still be assigned the task and thus a weakness is addressed. 


Depending on the type of disaster and the projected timeline for it to be resolved, the security of a neighborhood will need to be addressed. 

Here are some security concerns that may need to be resolved to help protect a community. 

Food and Water

To keep all aspects of the community running, people will need the basics like food and water. 

While some people will have food stocks, others may not have as much. 

Food and water may need to be shared on a community level, but this does not necessarily mean it has to come out of your stock. Sharing personal resources should be on a volunteer basis as the alternative can surely cause tensions to flare. 

Community gardens, hunting, fishing, and wild edibles can be implemented to help keep everyone fed. 

To obtain clean water, rainwater collection systems can be installed on as many properties as possible or the use of a private well can help to keep everyone hydrated. 

Wrap Up 

Being self-sufficient on a community level is one of the healthiest and most efficient ways to prepare for an emergency. 

I hope you enjoyed the article even though it did not address absolutely everything that must be done to keep a small community or neighborhood functioning. The goal was more to show that there are many benefits to creating positive relationships with those that live closest to you rather than standing behind a closed window curtain.

One person alone cannot rebuild a town, but many hands working side by side can raise, maintain, and strengthen a community. 

So, get out there and know thy neighbor!

Thanks for reading and say prepared!

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.